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first of the season

I picked my first artichokes of the season today! Plus another 40 or 50 pounds of lemons! Really, someday, I will have picked that lemon tree clean… but not for a while. Only two artichokes were ready, so this recipe is for two, it can easily be doubled or tripled, no matter how many more artichokes you add.  But only go up to 1 1/2 cups of water to cook them in and no more than about 5 tablespoons olive oil.  When increasing recipes, know that not all ingredients increase in equal increments.  For instance, even if you double or triple the onion/garlic/thyme/fennel portions, you still will only need about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to sauté them in… that make sense?

Lemon Braised Artichokes

1 lemon, halved
2 medium artichokes
2 green onions, white part sliced into thin rings
1 garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided 3 times
1 cup cold water
3 strips lemon peel
Grated lemon zest, set aside for garnish
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, divided
1 tomato, diced

Add lemon halves to a large bowl of cold water, squeezing to release juice. Cut off the top inch of 1 artichoke and bend back outer leaves until they snap off close to base (keep stem attached). Discard several more layers in the same manner until you reach the paler leaves.

Cut remaining leaves flush with the top of the artichoke bottom using a sharp knife. Trim dark green fibrous parts from the base and sides of the artichoke. Peel sides of stem down to the pale inner core. Put in lemon water while preparing the remaining artichokes.

Sauté green onion, garlic, 1 teaspoon of the fresh thyme leaves, and fennel in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pot (pot should be wide enough to hold artichokes in 1 layer with stems pointing upward) over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Add water, zest, and 3 tablespoons lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Stand artichokes in pot and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Cover artichokes with parchment or wax paper, then a lid, and simmer over medium-low heat until bottoms are just tender when pierced with a knife, 20 to 30 minutes.

Transfer artichokes to a dish and reserve cooking liquid. When artichokes are cool enough to handle, halve lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the inner choke (fuzzy center) and any sharp leaves.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high, brown cut sides of artichokes for about 2 minutes, turn over and brown for 1 minute on the other side.

Add 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid to the skillet along with the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice and remaining tablespoon of olive oil; boil for 3 minutes, stir in the remaining teaspoon of thyme and pour over artichokes and sprinkle with diced tomatoes and grated lemon zest. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 2

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1 Marissa { 04.26.10 at 10:49 PM }

I’ve resorted to cereal for dinner. I wish I was at home eating this!!!

2 Linda Hopkins { 04.27.10 at 8:20 AM }

Oh baby girl, that just makes me sad! I’ll have artichokes all summer, so I will make this for you the second you are home! xoxo

3 Marissa { 04.27.10 at 4:04 PM }

OK! I am going to hold you to that.

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