Hundreds of years ago, some brave and patient soul stumbled across the artichoke plant and decided to eat it. He was brave for wanting to put something so fibrous and prickly into his mouth. And patient… because I’m sure the first attempt at eating the artichoke was not a pleasant one. Somehow, this adventurous person figured out that we must trim the artichoke and then cook it, either by steaming or braising.
What our culinary ancestors discovered, the Italians improved upon, and my former boss Lydia Shire further embellished. Her standard artichoke preparation was braised in olive oil with capers, garlic, parsley and anchovies. The olive oil tamed the acrid after-taste that makes artichokes so difficult to pair with wine. And the anchovies lend a salty je ne sais quoi (in the same way that fish sauce gives Vietnamese and Thai food depth).
These artichokes are wonderful in risotto or roasted and stuffed. My favorite preparation from Lydia was the skillet pizza – a white pizza topped with the parmesan, St. Andre cheese and truffle oil. Currently, I don’t have truffle oil in my pantry, but I did have some first cuttings of arugula and scallions in the garden, which lightened the otherwise rich dish.
1 shallot, sliced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 scallion, cut in rounds
2 braised artichokes
3 oz. St. andre cheese
2 oz. ricotta salata, grated
2 oz. parmesan, grate
1/4 cup olive oil
- Sweat shallots and garlic in olive oil.
- Form dough in a well oiled skillet.
- Garnish pizza with artichokes, garlic and shallots, cheeses and scallions