I grew up eating artichokes in California and always look forward to spring when they come into season. The plant was brought to California by Italian settlers, so I’m sharing a traditional preparation. Nipitella is an herb used in Tuscany to flavor the vegetable, mellowing out some of its bitter notes.
To serve: olive oil, or melted butter, or lemon mayonnaise
Trim and clean the artichokes. Remove the woody bottom portion of the stem, tear off any small leaves on the stem or base, and snip off any leaf spines with scissors. Trimming the top is optional, it will depend on how large and old the artichoke is. Rub the artichokes all over with olive oil and a few big pinches of nipitella.
Add a few big pinches of salt to a large pot and add a steamer insert so the artichokes don’t touch the bottom of the pot. Place your artichokes in stem side up, add water until it comes about halfway up the artichokes, and a generous glug of olive oil. Bring the water to a boil, then drop the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Artichokes are ready when a leaf can be easily pulled off (depends on size, anywhere from 30-60 minutes).
Serve with dipping sauce of your choice. The choke is best removed with a small spoon after you eat the leaves.
Food images and recipe © Christian Leue
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