Braised artichokes might sound like a lot of work–and they are. But, hear us out, they are absolutely worth it. Garnished with coriander, peppercorns, lemon, and almonds, this dish will show you just how good artichokes can be.
Before I tell you about these braised artichokes, let me tell you that the artichoke, as far as I am concerned, trumps most vegetables. I love it for its earthy, sweet flavor; I love it cooked or shaved raw into a simple salad of arugula, Parmesan, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Don’t be wary of artichokes because you’re afraid they will be too complicated to cook. This dish showcases a great method for cooking and eating them. While they certainly are not the easiest vegetable to prepare, once they hit season in the spring, artichokes are a definite go-to vegetable for me.–Jason Roberts
LC All-Consuming Artichoke Love Note
Ever notice how folks who are drawn to the rather green and vegetal taste of artichokes—whether braised artichokes or any manner of artichoke incarnations—are rarely casual about the topic? Actually, to be quite frank, they tend to be downright evangelical, preaching proper trimming tactics and spewing an elaborate array of adjectives to explain the taste and texture of their most memorable artichoke experience. Well, this braised artichokes recipe just may have turned us into one of them. God love ’em.
- 8 medium artichokes (not large and not small)
- 2 smallish lemons preferably organic, cut in half
- Sea salt
- 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon white peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup whole raw or blanched almonds toasted and roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- Trim and discard the outer leaves and the fibrous stems from the artichokes. If desired, peel away enough of the remaining inner leaves to reveal the pale yellow leaves toward the heart of the artichoke. Also if desired, you can trim the ends of the stems and peel the stems to reveal their pale flesh.
- Grab a small knife and cut about 2/3 from the top of each artichoke and remove the hairy-looking choke with a small spoon or melon baller. Rub each artichoke with a halved lemon and then place the artichokes in a pot filled with cold water and the juice of the other lemon (the lemon prevents the artichokes from browning).
- When all the artichokes are prepared, pour off the lemon water and cover the artichokes with enough fresh cold water to submerge them. Add enough sea salt so the water tastes salty. (For every 4 cups water there should be a good teaspoon salt.) Toss in 1/2 cup olive oil, the coriander seeds, and the peppercorns, cover the pot with parchment paper and bring the liquid to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer and cook until the artichokes are tender, another 8 to 10 minutes if you trimmed all the outer leaves or, if you left most of the leaves intact, another 40 or so minutes. The best way to test for doneness is by pushing a paring knife or skewer into the thickest part of the artichoke to test for resistance; the artichoke should be tender but with a slight firmness because it will continue to cook a little as it cools in the liquid. Remove the pot of braised artichokes from the heat and let cool slightly. Drain the artichokes, reserving the cooking liquid for soup, if desired.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon cooking liquid from the artichokes. Season the dressing with a little salt and pepper to taste, then add the almonds and chopped parsley and mix well.
- Drizzle or drench the braised artichokes with the lemon vinaigrette. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Living so close to the self-proclaimed artichoke capital of the world, you might think I’ve tried every possible way to cook artichokes by now, but this braised artichokes recipe was a completely fresh approach—one that I will make again and again. Honestly, I’m usually thrilled just to steam a large artichoke and enjoy it, leaf by leaf, with a bit of fresh mayonnaise, devouring every bit of the tender flesh. But this is a recipe you could share and serve to guests if you aren’t too greedy.
For this recipe, you really do want medium artichokes. Large ones will have developed much more choke to remove, and the tiny baby ones—you know, those irresistible 10-for-a-dollar ones during the height of the season—are too small once you remove the outer leaves. I found that a sharp melon baller tool worked as well if not better than a paring knife for removing the interior choke portion. Prepping these doesn’t take much time—maybe half an hour, being meticulous. I used a medium oval enameled cast-iron Dutch oven and covered the artichokes in 5 cups brine with the spices and olive oil, then placed a trimmed piece of parchment over the whole thing. Once it came to a boil, I reduced to a simmer and set the lid slightly ajar to help keep in the heat. The artichokes were done in just over 8 minutes. I let them cool slowly in the pan and served them lukewarm as part of a meatless Monday dinner. The dressing can be prepped either at the last minute or while the artichokes are cooking. I quartered them and drizzled the lemon vinaigrette over them on a bed of orzo with some braised greens. This could be a nice first course for guests, made ahead and left to cool. The entire trimmed and cooked artichoke is edible. I used toasted almonds that were already sliced and Meyer lemons (I used 3 since they were smaller). I used cilantro because we had accidentally brought it home in place of parsley, and even though my spouse is not a huge cilantro fan, he liked it. I really recommend using a melon baller to remove the interior choke then peeling the stems. My only regret is that I had no immediate use for the resulting vegetable stock (I often use artichoke water for cooking rice or pasta), and with the oil and spices, it was especially nice.
I love artichokes. What really makes this braised artichokes recipe special is the lemon vinaigrette. I didn’t remove as many artichoke leaves as the recipe suggested because I think that’s a bit of a waste since most of the leaves on an artichoke have an edible portion on them. I usually remove only the tough outer leaves. I also wait until the leaves have been peeled off before I remove the choke and eat the heart. I find it rather difficult to correctly clean out the entire choke before the artichoke is cooked, and it’s no problem to eat the leaves with the choke intact. Holding the artichokes in acidulated water is essential since they brown very quickly. Because I kept more leaves on the artichokes, they took about 40 minutes to become tender. The lemon vinaigrette is very easy to prepare and greatly enhances the artichoke—much healthier than hollandaise, a fairly standard accompaniment for artichokes. These artichokes are good served warm or at room temperature.
Originally published April 19, 2015