I always thought artichokes were best left to the pros what with their prickly leaves and intimidating choke. However, I was recently at the grocery store and spied a pile of baby artichokes from California and thought I'd better give it a go. While California isn't really local, artichokes are in peak season there and they don't grow well on the East Coast. So, like lemons and oranges, some times you just have to get as close as you can and Cali is it for artichokes.
My first encounter with artichoke was at Duke Zeibert's. Duke's use to be the place my father wined and dined a number of his clients. Until it closed 17 years ago, it was the place to go in DC. Dad went throughout the week with his people, but on Saturdays he'd take us. As a kid I had no idea it was a scene, but I liked that my younger brother and I each got a little bottle of coke we could pour ourselves and which worked out to a glass and a half of soda, fifty percent more than we were generally allotted. I also loved the mini wine buckets of sour pickles; the onion rolls; the caesar salad prepared for us table-side; the juicy prime rib.
And I loved watching my older brothers eat steamed artichokes, peeling off the leaves and dunking them in melted butter and acting as though they were the coolest, which is exactly what I thought. I miss Duke's. I miss it for the memory of my family, a snapshot in time of the six of us before we grew up and realized that life is hard. We were thrilled to be together then and these days with spouses and children and careers and distance, it's hard to steal little moments like that so sometimes we just have to allow our memories to be sparked by a pile of artichokes at the grocery store.
Buying artichokes also brought me back to a favorite Italian salad of mine: Insalata di Carciofi or Artichoke Salad. Artichoke salad looks amazing and it's really very simple, just raw shaved artichokes with lemon dressing and parmesan cheese. I've also eaten a version with avocado mashed into it. Since I happened to have a perfectly ripe avocado on hand, I used it and the result was really wonderful. An added surprise? Baby girl couldn't get enough of it.
Artichoke and Avocado Salad
(While I generally see artichokes sliced using a mandoline, the hubby and I kept mangling the artichoke and nearly killing ourselves so I instead grated the artichoke. Another note, both artichoke and avocado turn brown very quickly so have acidulated water on hand for the artichoke and have the dressing ready before cutting into the avocados.)
What You'll Need:
1/4 cup fresh squeezed Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
8 Baby Artichokes with outer leave removed* and floating in acidulated water (water with the juice of half a lemon mixed in)
8-10 strips of Parmesan Cheese (use a potato peeler to get really thin strips)
In a serving bowl, whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper together and set aside.
Using the largest grate on your box grater, grate the artichokes and return them to the acidulated water.
Place the avocado in the serving bowl and mash it together with the dressing. Strain the shredded artichoke, pressing it down to get all the water out. Add the artichoke to the avocado mixture and mix well. Top with the parmesan strips and serve.
*Note: Here's a helpful video on how to peel baby artichokes. It's sponsored by an artichoke producer, but I have no relationship with them!! CLICK HERE
Cost per Meal: Expect 3-4 servings
This Time Last Year: Kitchy Quiche