Growing up, my parents tended not to keep junk or snack food in the house– they simply didn’t eat it and never bought it. I learned at a very young age that if I wanted something to snack on in between meals (which was frowned upon), I’d better have an open mind (and palate).
There were only ever two things always found in the family fridge– Dijon mustard and marinated artichoke hearts. To this day, those are two items I reliably stock in my own fridge. As a little kid, I would munch away a jar of artichoke hearts while watching Gilligan’s Island reruns. And when I got older, as a poor college student, one snack I could afford was Saltine crackers smeared with Maille’s Dijon mustard.
While pots of Dijon mustard are readily available, baby artichokes are seasonal, and now’s the season! Look for them, packaged in better grocery stores (gourmet or natural food shops). This method of preparation is simple, if not a bit time consuming, but worth every second!
RECIPE: Roasted Baby Artichokes
9 baby artichokes (more or less, as you like)
Lemon juice (for boiling water)
Extra virgin olive oil
Lemon juice (for roasting)
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Have a large bowl filled with water and lemon juice (this is called acidulated water), at the ready. Snap off the outer leaves of the artichoke, about 2 layers of leaves. Cut the top 1/2 inch off and trim the bottom, as well as the stem to remove the tough, fibrous outer bit. Cut the chokes into quarters and place into the acidulated water, while you trim the rest of the chokes.
Dry the chokes off with a tea towel then toss them with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice (2 parts olive oil to 1 part lemon juice), salt and plenty of black pepper and then dill weed.
Bake on a non-stick pan for 20 minutes, until soft, then sprinkle Parmesan cheese over top and bake a few minutes longer, until the cheese has softened and begun to melt.
Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Serve 2 chokes per person for an appetizer.