Tuesday, April 17, 2007
I am something of a suggestible shopper. Place Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in my path, and I'm bringing them home. And, somebody, please stop putting Kinder displays right next to the register. They're working too well.
Luckily, my willingness to depart from my list doesn't apply only to candy. The other day, ShopRite had a big display of baby artichokes set prominently in the vegetable section: rows of shrink-wrapped packages, each holding nine neatly arranged little artichokes. I was powerless to resist.
I'm hardly an expert choke wrangler. I'd worked with full-size artichokes a few times, but it had been years. Margy, who's known to make an awesome whole fish with artichokes, has had a little more experience. But let's just say my purchase meant this was a special occasion -- we had spiky green guests in the house, and I was on my best behavior.
I tore open the package and dumped the little guys on the table. They rolled around a bit, orbiting out in random directions. I collected them and began to whittle. A few long minutes later I was looking at a huge pile of stiff green leaves and nine puny yellow-green cylinders. These were obviously not so-young-you-barely-have-to-peel-them baby artichokes, but among the wreckage I had enough to make an ample side dish to go with grilled sausages.
I steamed the suckers for about ten minutes, let them cool, and tossed them in a few tablespoons of lemon vinaigrette (lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper). Then they followed the sausages on the grill, to take on a bit of char. When they were done I dressed them in more vinaigrette. They were fun to eat, pleasantly al dente, with their natural tanginess highlighted by the lemony dressing. Given all the work they required -- the peeling, the slicing, the steaming -- I think baby artichokes will remain infrequent guests, but we'll definitely look forward to their next visit.