“Hello Monkey! Hello Stink!” Roo said as he walked into the apartment.
“You will not believe what happened in yoga today,” I said, calling out from the kitchen.
Roo dropped his messenger bag on the floor and took off his shoes, “What happened?”
“There was a girl,” I paused, “moaning.”
Roo laughed, “Sounds hot.”
“No! No it was terrible.” I said, ripping the outer artichoke leaves off in frustration. “It was like I was trapped in a porno movie.”
“It couldn’t have been that bad.”
“It was!” I said, dipping another artichoke into the acidulated water. I removed it and gave it a good shake. “It was so distracting,” I continued, grabbing and ripping the leaves off. “Shit!”
“I stabbed myself with a thorn.”
Roo came into the kitchen and gently took my hand into his. He looked down at the tip of my ring finger and then back up at me. “You’ll live.”
“I know. I’m just…” I said, taking back my hand, “I couldn’t relax.”
“Maybe you just misheard her.”
“How can I mishear -” I started, then proceeded to moan as I heard in class.
“Like I said, sounds hot.”
“You cannot be serious.”
“Since when did you get all uptight about yoga? Isn’t it about being connected with your true self or something?”
“Perhaps. But my true self isn’t someone who listens to a porn track for 90 minutes.”
Baby artichokes are far easier to prepare than their bigger siblings as they’re choke free. Baked with crunchy breadcrumbs that have a little heat from the red pepper flake, savory from the minced garlic and a little bite from the scallions may make you wonder why you’ve never stuffed them before.
The star of this dish is the artichoke heart. It’s succulent, practically creamy and just a bit sweet. If you’ve only had canned artichoke hearts, make this dish. It’s so worth the effort.
Adapted from Melissa Clark
Serves 3 – 4
A sharp knife
A large bowl filled halfway with water
A large skillet
A spatula or a wooden spoon, whatever you like working with to mix ingredients in a skillet
A large baking dish or a roasting pan
A large piece of aluminum foil
For the artichokes
1 lemon, cut in half
18 baby artichokes (you could use regular artichokes, however I would use about 6 – 8, and you’d have to remove the chokes)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt to taste
For the breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons of olive oil
8 scallion branches (I used 4 scallions, each with 2 branches), green and white parts sliced thinly
4 garlic cloves, minced (I love garlic, but if you don’t, start with 1 clove)
Half a teaspoon of red pepper flake (I love heat, but if you’re a bit sensitive, it can be optional or use a quarter teaspoon)
1 cup of panko breadcrumbs (you can use plain breadcrumbs as well)
Salt to taste
A bit of water to add to the baking dish
Place the oven rack to the middle position of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F.
Squeeze the lemon halves into the large bowl filled with water, then throw them in.
Clean the baby artichokes (peel, trim then halve) and immediately place them into the lemon water. (Be careful of the thorns!) Set aside.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the large skillet and place over a burner on medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the thinly sliced scallions. Cook, stirring occasionally. When the scallions start to soften, add the garlic and red pepper flake and give it a good stir into the oil. When the garlic and red pepper flake become fragrant (about 30 seconds to a minute), add the panko breadcrumbs. Stir in the panko to ensure that they’re coated with oil and the other ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the panko becomes lightly browned. Remove from heat.
Add the baby artichoke halves to the baking dish. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the baby artichoke halves, and give them a good toss with your hands. Then, set the artichoke halves cut side up.
Spoon the panko mixture onto the artichoke halves. It’s ok if some fall off.
Add a thin layer of water to the baking dish (it’s ok if the panko on the baking dish get wet).
Cover the baking dish with the large piece of aluminum foil and poke a bunch of holes in it with your knife.
Bake the artichokes for about 45 minutes, or until the artichokes are tender when poked with a fork. Keep checking the artichokes every 5 minutes after 45 minutes until they’re tender.
Optional: If you’d like the breadcrumbs to be super crunchy and brown, raise the oven rack to the highest position in the oven (after the artichokes are done). Broil the artichokes (keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t burn!) for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. I often forget to do this. It’s delicious either way.