spring artichokes

I know spring is on the way — I saw baby artichokes in the market yesterday when I was shopping! I just love those, and wait all year for them to come around. The baby ones are so good, braised with a bunch of fresh herbs, a little kick from sun-dried tomatoes and pepper flakes, and a bit decadent with a silky Provolone cheese. Try these, an let me know what you think! Be sure to get all of the lovely juices in the bottom of the pan.

Carcciofi Gratinatti

(Braised Baby Artichokes With Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Cheese)

8 baby artichokes

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 clove garlic

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

hot pepper flakes (optional)

2 teaspoons minced parsley

1 teaspoon basil, in chiffonade

1 teaspoon mint, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes

6 slices Provolone cheese

Peel off and discard outer leaves from artichokes, cut off top, cut in half lengthwise and remove choke. Put in lemon water to reduce browning.

When all of the artichokes are trimmed, remove from the water. Rub with garlic. In skillet just large enough to hold artichokes, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Set artichokes in skillet cut-side up, add water to a depth of ½ inch. Sprinkle with fennel, pepper flakes, parsley, basil and mint.  Bring to boil, reduce temperature to simmer, cook 15 to 20 minutes, until artichokes are soft.

Sprinkle artichokes with salt and pepper and sun-dried tomatoes; top with cheese slices. Cover and cook over low heat until cheese is melted. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Serves 4.


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