I love fresh artichokes. I've grown up eating the giant thistles, steamed until tender, dipping the meaty ends of the leaves into melted butter and scraping off the good stuff. And the heart is the best part, I would carefully scrape off each tuft of fluff, leaving the heart as intact as possible, so as not to waste any. They were always such a treat!
So when I saw a giant package of baby artichokes at Trader Joe's, I couldn't resist. I had never had baby artichokes before, I had no idea what I would do with them, or even exactly how you prepared them, but I took them home anyway.
So after poking around for recipes, and not finding too many, I decided to wing it. A crunchy topping sounded like a good idea, so I grabbed some old bread I'd stashed in the freezer. I was actually going to use pine nuts, but it seems I was out, so I subbed in blanched almonds - which turned out to be a great idea! And of course, lemon has to go in there somewhere. It all turned out really good - and very simple.
Baby Artichokes with Bread Crumbs and Almonds
1 TB butterFirst, prep your baby artichokes. Tear off the outer leaves until you get to tender yellow leaves in the middle. Cut off the top third of the artichoke, and the stem. If large, quarter or halve; if very small, leave whole. Drop them into a large bowl of acidulated water (add TB lemon juice or white vinegar) after cutting to prevent browning.
3 TB bread crumbs
2 TB almonds, coarsely ground or finely chopped
1/2 tsp finely grated and chopped lemon zest
large pinch salt
2 lbs baby artichokes
1 TB olive oil
large pinch salt
several turns fresh ground pepper
In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt butter. When foam subsides, add bread crumbs and almonds and cook, stirring frequently, until toasted and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn off heat, add in the zest and a large pinch of salt, mix, remove from pan and set aside.
In the same skillet, add the olive oil. Add the artichokes and cook over medium heat for about 5-6 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of water, and let water cook off, another several minutes. Test for doneness, and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Artichokes should be tender, but still have a bit of a bite. Plate, and top with the breadcrumbs.