No mommy hang-ups here. I love my mother, even when she does take on that Joan Crawford-like persona. Most of the time, though, she’s a real peach. Unfortunately, I won’t be making her a mother’s day feast this year. I will, however, be cooking for my friend Emily’s family, and I wanted to make something really special, something that just screams spring, so I stepped into my kitchen to test out possible recipes.
There’s one vegetable that’s earthy and bright at the same time, that has the ability to stand on its own and blend in with the group. It’s the one vegetable I’ve avoided in fresh form at all cost, and one of the most intimidating thistles you’ll ever see: the artichoke.
For years now I’ve been afraid of the artichoke, afraid of its giant globular structure, protective leaves and bristly choke. But when I saw Michael Chiarello make his Braised Artichokes Over Pasta, I knew it was time for me to put aside my fears and start cooking. For the record, this is one of the best pasta dishes I’ve made in a long time—and I make A LOT of pasta, believe me.
So folks, I’ve tackled the artichoke, and now you can, too. When it comes down to it, preparing artichokes is not difficult, only time-consuming, but your technique improves with each choke. Enlist a friend or family member to help cut down on prep time. This adapted recipe is certainly worth the effort, I promise. Remember to keep a lemon half nearby to rub on the cut artichokes to prevent browning. If you don’t have time to devote to whole artichokes, feel free to substitute canned artichoke hearts for fresh.
Serve this pasta with crusty Italian bread, warm butter, and a delicious, peppery arugula salad. If you want to make mom brunch instead of dinner, check out Kitchen Bitch on Thursday.
Lemon-Braised Artichokes Over Linguine
This recipe was adapted from Michael Chiarello. It serves 6. Simply double the ingredients if you’re feeding 12. If you don’t have time to prepare fresh artichokes, use canned artichoke hearts. They just won’t look as beautiful on the plate. For a print copy of this recipe, click here.
For the artichokes:
½ c. extra-virgin olive oil
½ c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ tsp. fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
1½ tsp. garlic, minced
1½ tsp. kosher salt
Small pinch freshly ground pepper
4 medium to large artichokes
For the Pasta Sauce:
1 lb. whole-wheat linguine
¼ c. olive oil
1 large onion, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ c. chicken broth or stock
4 c. spinach, stemmed and washed and packed
Lemon Braised Artichoke Hearts, recipe follows
¼ c. Italian parsley, chopped
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan, for serving
Prepare marinade: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium nonreactive saucepan. Mix well and set aside while preparing the artichokes.
Prepare the artichokes: Snap outer leaves from an artichoke, starting at the base and working up in a circular pattern, until you reach the tender inner leaves. These inner leaves will not snap off so easily and will be lighter in color. Cut off the top half, and then use a paring knife to peel the stem and the bottom half of the leaves near the base of the artichoke to get to the heart, rubbing cut surfaces with the lemon half as you work to avoid discoloration. Cut the heart in half and scrape out the choke with a spoon. Cut each piece in half again.
As each artichoke heart quarter is completed, immediately turn it in the marinade to coat completely. When all the artichokes are trimmed, put the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Pour the artichokes and marinade into a baking dish (or cook them in the saucepan if it is ovenproof), cover with foil, and cook until the artichokes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the cooking liquid.
Prepare pasta and sauce: Cook the linguine according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic.
When garlic is golden, add the oregano and broth. Bring to a simmer, stir in the spinach to wilt. Add the artichokes. Drain the pasta and place in a serving bowl. Pour over the artichoke mixture and toss with the parsley and butter and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.