Oh, how I miss living in the Bay Area – especially this time of year. There is always some bounty to be gotten twelve months out of the year, but right I am pining for the artichokes I use to get. Tight, little buds still attached to the arm that sprouted from its trunk. Those petite artichokes hardly had a developed inner choke that needed to be cared for, and I would blanch them whole to be finished on the grill – with a mint infused dressing and I was in bliss.
Now, I welcome the arrival of Watsonville’s harvest as it heads east granted I no longer can find them of their stems making me change up my springtime floral bouquets. It has not impacted my desire or ability to cook them. I still look for buds that are tightly packed together and firm to the touch and deal with the more matured artichokes that arrive here and their slightly more evolved internal thorny choke. It is spring and a pile of greenish petals is always a welcomed sight.
Artichoke Puree - yields approx 2-1/2 cups
2-1/2 to 3 pounds artichokes
3-scallions – green tops only, roughly chopped
2-garlic cloves – roughly chopped
1/4-cup mint leaves
1-cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Trim one to two outer layers of the artichoke’s petals. Rub with a lemon around that area. Cut the artichoke in quarters, and with a pairing knife remove the inner choke. Rub the cut side of the artichoke with the lemon.
Place the artichokes in a pot, and cover with water. Place one lemon in the water with the artichokes. Cover with a lid that is slightly smaller than the circumference of the pot. Bring to the boil over a medium heat. Cook the artichokes for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the artichokes.
In the bowl of a food processor add the cooked artichokes, the juice of one lemon, scallion greens, garlic, and mint. Process the mixture to start it breaking down, and with the machine running pour n the oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the artichoke puree in a fine mesh sieve, and push it through over a work bowl. Discard the fibrous debris. Readjust the seasoning of the puree. Refrigerate for up to two weeks.