What's Tasty at Sigona's Farmers Market

May 16, 2012

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s featuring Artichokes

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s featuring Artichokes

If you’re encountering artichokes for the first time, these jumbo gems may seem a bit intimidating, but don’t let the thorns fool you. Artichokes are great and absolutely fun to eat! You can steam them, stuff them and make them into soups.

The Basics

For easy eating, cut off the top of the artichoke leaves to remove the thorns.

Working with Artichokes

  1. Wash under cold water
  2. Remove lower, small and discolored leaves
  3. Remove stems if attached
  4. Cut off the top 1/4 of the artichoke and trim any thorns
  5. Keep the trimmed artichokes in acidulated water (one tablespoon lemon juice per quart of water) until time to cook.
  6. Cook as desired but not in aluminum or cast iron pots.
  7. Eat the tender portion at the bottom of each leaf, the heart, and even the soft interior leaves. The fuzzy interior choke is inedible.

Simple Steamed Artichokes

Place trimmed and prepped artichokes on a rack an inch or two above boiling water seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon each of olive oil, lemon juice and peppercorns. Cover and steam 25-45 minutes, until tender and leaves pull apart easily.

Alternately, place artichokes in microwave safe bowl with 1/4 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon each of olive oil, lemon juice and peppercorns, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high 6-7 minutes. Let stand covered for 5 minutes more.

Grilled Artichokes

  1. Prep artichokes by removing the smaller or discolored leaves. Remove the stems, cut of 1/4 of the top of the artichoke and, using scissors, trim the thorns from each leaf.

    Artichokes on the grill at Pezzini Farms in Castroville.

  2. Steam or boil artichokes for 15-25 minutes or until tender and leaves pull off easily.
  3. Slice cooked artichokes in half lengthwise and use a spoon or melon baller to remove the fuzzy choke and first few inner layers in the center.
  4. Brush each half with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Place artichokes, with cut side down first, on a hot grill for 5-7 minutes. Turn and grill an additional 5-7 minutes more. Look for nice grill marks on both sides.
  6. Serve with lemon wedges and your dip of choice (butter, aioli or marinara)

 

When I dip, you dip, we dip!

Here are a couple artichoke dips we know you’ll love.

Low-Cal Dill Dip

From the California Artichoke Advisory Board

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup reduced calorie mayo
  • 2 TBL green onion, minced
  • 3 TBL capers, drained and chopped
  • 3/4 tsp dried dill

Directions: Stir all ingredients together. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

The Best Dip: Good Ol’ Butter

Most ‘choke fans love to simply tip a steamed artichoke leaf in butter, and we agree with the California Artichoke Advisory Board on this one…adding a little something to the butter makes it even better!

To your butter, try mixing a little garlic powder, lemon juice, parsley or powdered Ranch dressing mix into melted butter!

Sigona’s Marinara

John Sigona says, “I love dipping artichokes in Sigona’s Old World Marinara – been doing it for years – delicious! Plus, our marinara as a dip with artichokes has less calories than mayo or aioli so it’s a healthier alternative.”

Garlic-Chive Aioli

  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 TBL diced fresh chives
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • A pinch of white pepper (or more, to taste)
  • A pinch of cayenne powder (or more, to taste)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions: Mix all the ingredients for the aioli in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Lemon-Thyme Aioli

Courtesy of Luisa Ormonde of Luisa’s Catering.

  • 1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Pinch sugar

Directions: Mix all the ingredients for the aioli in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

 

Pan Fried Baby Artichokes with Mint and Lemon

Recipe and photo courtesy of Turntable Kitchen. Follow the link below for cooking instructions.

  • Pan Fried Baby Artichokes with Mint and Lemon. Recipe and photo courtesy of Turntable Kitchen.

    1 dozen baby artichokes, trimmed and sliced in half, length-wise (see these tips for trimming baby artichokes in Saveur Magazine)

  • zest from 1/2 Meyer lemon
  • 3-4 anchovy fillets
  • salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped mint, plus more for garnish
  • olive oil
  • juice from 1/2 lemon

Directions: find the directions on the Turntable Kitchen website.

Grandma Pauline’s Traditional Sicilian Stuffed Artichokes

This artichoke recipe evokes vivid memories of my childhood when our extended family would visit my grandmother Pauline, my mom’s mom, and gather around the table set with a huge platter of these stuffed artichokes. Everyone would sit together and reach in to pluck off a leaf – it really brought the family together. Artichokes take a while longer to cook when prepared this way, but each petal bursts with layers of flavor so it’s worth it! Stuffs four large artichokes. – John Sigona, Jr.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large artichokes (slice off the top 1 inch of the entire artichoke, use scissors to cut the tips off of each leaf and then slice off the stem/bottom so it sits up straight)
  • 1-1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup Sigona’s fresh press extra virgin olive oil (we recommend our Spanish Arbequina)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 of one onion, diced
  • 1.5 oz. anchovies, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon

Directions:  In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onions and work for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Stir in the anchovies and melt into the oil. Cook for about 2 minutes.

Add in the breadcrumbs and reduce heat to low. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to bring the mix together. Turn off the burner and then stir in Parmesan. Set mixture aside.

Fit a large pot with a steamer basket and fill with about an inch of water and the juice of 1 lemon. Cover and bring the water to a low boil so it creates steam.

To stuff the artichokes, start at the crown and peel back a petal to make a little pocket. Fill the pocket with a small spoonful of the breadcrumb mix – remember you have 4 artichokes to stuff so measure spoonfuls accordingly. Move to the next petal; repeat until the entire artichoke is stuffed.

Set stuffed artichokes upright on steamer basket and steam until a leaf pulls out easily. Begin checking at about 35 minutes. When done, place on serving dish alongside an empty bowl to dump used leaves.

Artichoke Frittata

Frittatas are simple dishes that take just minutes to prepare and are great for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. They’re different from a quiche in that they do not have a crust. Using egg whites makes for a healthier option, and you can add in as many veggies as you like. For this one, we’re just using artichokes, but if you’re looking to add something, we suggest mushrooms. Serves 4. – Carmelo Sigona

Ingredients:

  • 3 large artichokes
  • 2 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 eggs, such as our pastured eggs from Wattle & Comb (you can do 4 whole eggs and 4 egg whites, if desired), lightly beaten with a splash of milk
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar

Directions: Par (or trim) down the artichokes to the cups – this means peel off all the leaves and cut out the fuzzy choke so all you’re left with is the heart.

Cook the heart of the artichokes in boiling water for about 10-15 minutes. Remove and cool. Then chop into smaller 1-2 inch pieces.

Season and sauté the shallots in olive oil for a couple minutes. Add the garlic and diced artichokes. Stir constantly for several minutes to let all the flavors come together.

Remove from heat and incorporate the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Working quickly, pour egg and artichoke mix into a lightly greased pie or frittata dish. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake at 325F for about 30 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temp.

Grilled Baby Artichokes with Lemon-Thyme Aioli

This recipe, submitted by our friend Luisa Ormonde of Luisa’s Catering in San Carlos, is simply mouthwatering. The presentation is pretty snazzy, too! Original post here. Serves 4.

For the artichokes:

  • Grilled Baby Artichokes with Lemon-Thyme Aioli. Recipe and photo courtesy of Luisa Ormonde of Luisa’s Catering.

    1 lemon, halved

  • 12 fresh baby artichokes
  • 1/2 cup (Sigona’s Fresh Press) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed and minced
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the aioli:

  • 1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Pinch sugar

Directions: Mix all the ingredients for the aioli in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Squeeze juice from lemon into bowl of cold water. Cut stem off 1 artichoke, leaving about 1 inch. Snap off bottom 3 rows of leaves. Cut off tip of artichoke. Halve artichoke lengthwise. Scrape out choke. Place in lemon water. Repeat with remaining artichokes.

Steam the artichokes until crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Drain; pat dry.

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Mix oil and garlic in small bowl. Skewer artichokes and brush artichokes with some of garlic oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Grill until tender and charred in spots, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer artichokes to platter.

Serve artichokes warm or at room temperature, offering lemon thyme aioli alongside.

Carmelo’s Creamy Fettuccine with Garlic & Artichokes

This is a recipe I throw together often during artichoke season. The earthy, nutty flavor of the artichokes adds a hearty characteristic to this creamy, lemony comfort dish. – Carmelo Sigona

Ingredients:

  • 1 package fresh Saporito Fine Pasta (found at Sigona’s)
  • 2 large artichokes
  • 1/4 cup Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, rough chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 TBL heavy cream
  • 2 TBL butter
  • 2 tsp lemon zest (from about 1 small lemon)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions: Par (or trim) down the artichokes to the cups – this means peel off all the leaves and cut out the fuzzy choke so all you’re left with is the heart.

Cook the heart and stems of the artichokes in boiling water for about 10-15 minutes. Remove and cool. Then rough chop into pieces.

In the meantime, boil the pasta according to package directions. Time the pasta so that it’s cooked to al dente and is ready to go from being drained into the artichoke mix (see direction below).

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and chopped garlic cloves over medium heat, stirring as to not burn the garlic. Add the wine and reduce by half.  Add the chopped artichoke hearts and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the cream and butter. Cook for 1 minute or until butter is melted.

Stir in cooked and drained pasta and then turn off the heat. Gently mix in lemon zest and the parmigiano reggiano cheese. Serve warm.

Grilled Artichokes, Roasted Striped Beets with Rainbow Radishes

Try any variety of beet with this recipe, the striped Chioggia beet makes for a fancy presentation! Recipe and photo courtesy of food blogger Mary Platis of California Greek Girl. Serves 4.

Grilled Artichokes, Roasted Striped Beets with Rainbow Radishes. Recipe and photo courtesy of food blogger Mary of California Greek Girl.

Ingredients:

  • 4 beets, roasted
  • 4 small artichokes, cooked and cleaned
  • 2-3 radishes, cut in half (look for colorful “Easter Egg” radishes. Regular red radishes work too)
  • 2 TBL (Sigona’s Fresh Press) olive oil
  • 1 tsp (Sigona’s traditional) balsamic
  • 2-3 leaves of  parsley, finely chopped
  • wooden kabob skewers (soak in water for at least 10 minutes before skewering food and placing on bbq)

Directions: Wrap the unpeeled beets in foil and roast in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until soft. Peel while still warm, and slice into quarters. Set aside.

Place artichokes in a pot of boiling water, and cook for 35-45 minutes until knife can be pierced easily in the stem.

Peel away all the leaves, remove the center, being careful not to break the artichoke. Trim all around any rough outer leaves. Cut in half and set aside.

Wash and cut radishes in half.

Skewer the cooked beets, radish, and cooked artichoke. Lightly oil the BBQ and cook the skewers for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Sprinkle with fresh parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serve warm.

 

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