Artichokes : Beyond Steaming


If you've never had an artichoke any way but steamed, you won't believe what you've been missing.

There is almost no limit to what you can do with them. Start basic--try tossing whole trimmed baby artichokes in the bottom of the pan when you're roasting meat, the way you would baby potatoes. Next try frying them--not in a heavy batter (the way you'll find them most places), but merely quartered and fried in hot olive oil. Sprinkled with a little salt and some lemon juice, they're wonderful.

Once you get comfortable, try the following: Artichoke strudel and torta are both elegant appetizers or light main dishes. Artichokes barigoule are a flavorful side dish to roast meat or fish. Artichoke cake . . . well, you'll just have to try it to believe it.


By many accounts, the best cook in the Monterey Bay area is Brian Whitmer, long-time chef at Carmel's Highlands Inn. This month he's opening his own restaurant, Montrio, in downtown Monterey. "This is my spin on the classic Greek dish spanakopita, which I always used to eat when I was in New York," Whitmer says.

5 pounds baby artichokes


Juice 1 lemon

1/2 cup very thinly sliced shallots

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 bunch spinach, rinsed and cleaned

1 cup clarified butter

8 sheets filo pastry

1 bunch chervil

1 tablespoon salt

2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Melted butter

Cut away tips and dark green outer leaves from baby artichokes and trim bottoms. Place in bowl with water and lemon juice. When all artichokes are cleaned, remove from water and cut lengthwise into thin slices, returning slices to lemon water.

Saute shallots briefly in olive oil in hot skillet. Add drained artichoke slices. Cook until artichokes are just tender.

Cook spinach in 2 tablespoons clarified butter in wide pan until tender. Set aside on paper towels. Let cool, then chop.

Divide filo pastry into 2 stacks of 4 sheets each. Combine artichokes, spinach, chervil and salt in bowl. Spread mixture thinly over half of length of each stack of filo pastry, covering 1 short end. Sprinkle goat cheese over each stack.

Starting at end with filling, slowly roll up filo, forming strudel. Brush each strudel with remaining clarified butter. Slice each strudel into 4 serving portions. Bake at 375 degrees 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Makes 8 appetizer servings.

Each serving contains about:

502 calories; 1,415 mg sodium; 65 mg cholesterol; 38 grams fat; 36 grams carbohydrates; 11 grams protein; 2.5 grams fiber.

ARTICHOKE PIE (Torta 'i Cacuocciuli)

This recipe is both sophisticated and earthy, like much of the food in the book from which this was taken, Vincent Schiavelli's "Papa Andrea's Sicilian Table" (Birch Lane Press: 1993).

2 pounds baby artichokes


Juice 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Torta Crust

6 eggs

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup grated caciocavallo or imported provolone cheese

1/2 cup grated locatelli or imported pecorino cheese


2 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs

1 cup coarsely shredded mozzarella

Large green olives

Cut away tips and dark green outer leaves from baby artichokes, trim bottoms and cut in half. Place in bowl with water mixed with lemon juice. Soak 15 minutes.

Heat olive oil in non-reactive skillet. Add drained artichokes and sea salt to taste. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring several minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 20 minutes, or until artichokes are tender but firm. Stir from time to time to prevent burning.

When artichokes are cooked, remove cover, turn up heat to high and saute until light golden. Remove from oil using slotted spoon. Set aside to cool.

Prepare Torta Crust and set aside.

Beat together eggs, cream, caciocavallo and locatelli cheeses and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle Torta Crust with bread crumbs, then mozzarella in even layer. Arrange artichokes in neat layer with cut side down. Pour egg mixture over all. Bake at 375 degrees until rich golden brown, about 1 hour.

Roll out leftover dough and cut out decorative shapes with cookie cutter. Bake on separate sheet until light brown and when pie is done, stand cut-outs on top as decoration.

Serve slightly warm, accompanied with large green olives.


2 cups flour, sifted

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup shortening

2 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon cognac

Sift together flour and salt in bowl. Cut in shortening until size of split peas. Cut in eggs as well. Add water and cognac. Form dough into ball. Cover. Let stand 10 minutes.

Roll out into 12-inch-diameter circle about 3/16-inch thick. Place in 9-inch diameter, 2-inch-deep baking pan or springform pan with removable bottom.

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie, or 8 appetizer servings.

Each serving contains about:

531 calories; 695 mg sodium; 251 mg cholesterol; 37 grams fat; 33 grams carbohydrates; 19 grams protein; 0.94 gram fiber.


1/2 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups sifted flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

3/4 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup artichoke pulp, about 2 pounds artichokes, trimmed, cooked and pureed

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup raisins

Cream together shortening and sugar in mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Continue beating, adding eggs 1 at time, then vanilla extract.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice.

Add flour mixture to shortening mixture, alternating with buttermilk, and mix well. Fold in artichoke pulp, walnuts and raisins.

Pour batter into greased and lightly floured 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees about 50 minutes, until top of cake is brown and springy, sides begin to pull away from sides of pan and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove springform sides.

Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains about:

463 calories; 319 mg sodium; 54 mg cholesterol; 17 grams fat; 71 grams carbohydrates; 10 grams protein; 1.37 grams fiber.


In addition to flavorful artichokes, there is plenty of sauce to sop in this recipe from famed French chef Roger Verge's cookbook "Roger Verge's Cuisine of the South of France" (William Morrow: 1980).

8 baby artichokes


Juice 1/2 lemon

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 carrot, thinly sliced

1 sprig thyme

1 bay leaf

4 cloves garlic

Coarse salt

Freshly ground white pepper

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 sprig basil

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Cut away tips and dark-green outer leaves from baby artichokes and trim bottoms. Place in bowl with water mixed with lemon juice.

Heat olive oil in pot large enough to hold all artichokes in 1 layer. Add onion and carrot. Saute until tender but not brown, about 10 minutes. Add thyme, bay leaf and 2 cloves garlic, minced.

Layer artichokes on top of vegetables. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour in wine and enough water to barely cover artichokes. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Uncover, remove artichokes, raise heat to high and reduce broth until only few tablespoons of syrupy juice remains, about 15 minutes.

Return artichokes to pan and chop remaining 2 cloves garlic, basil leaves and parsley. Remove pot from heat and stir in chopped garlic and herbs. Spoon artichokes into serving plates with juices.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Each of 4 servings contains about:

189 calories; 204 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 10 grams fat; 20 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 1.92 grams fiber.

* In artichoke cake photo Belgravia plates from Nina Campbell collection for Rosenthal. Dialog dessert fork from Rosenthal. At On a Mission, Claremont.

* In artichoke strudel photo on H12 Bloomsbury platter from Nina Campbell collection for Rosenthal, Rhondo glass by Thomas for Rosenthal and Cambio server. At On a Mission, Claremont.

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