despite the fact that i’ve have never been a huge artichoke fan (and i don’t think grace is either), living in rome, it’s impossible to avoid them. as with just about every other food i’ve learned to prepare here, eating an artichoke was a relatively new experience for me. these pictured are called cimaroli (pronounced ‘cheema-roli’) here. they’re the huge ones- and make for a simple but delicious dish with a little garlic, parsley and basil. perfect for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, this dish is a great summer meal with a glass of rose. click here for the full recipe and wine pairing- happy cooking! –kristina
-To clean them, set a big bowl of water with lemon in it, and start by breaking off the exterior leaves until they come off very easily. You’ll notice the difference as you get closer to the center, and they’ll be more yellow at the base than green.
-Lop off the toughest ends of the ‘flower’, and then take a sharp knife, specific trimming knives exist but I don’t have one, and trim the ends of the leaves all the way around to clean it up. (The woman from whom I buy my produce said to worry about the ‘hairy’ inside after cooking, which saves time, so I do.)
-Trim off the stems, just long enough so they’ll fit in your pot and use a knife or vegetable peeler to clean the tough outer part of the stem. As your clean each artichoke, place them in the bowl of water. IMPORTANT: Use the lemons to thoroughly and excessively clean your fingertips or else you will have stained cuticles and underneath your nails will stain for a week to follow. Not cute if you work in an environment where proper grooming is expected of you.
-Finely chop two or three cloves of garlic, a handful of parsley, and a handful of basil. Place these in the bottom of a pot that is high enough to hold your artichokes.
-Pour 1 / 2 (one half) cup of olive oil in, and then a cup of water, or enough so that the artichokes are covered by about two-fingers of liquid. Put the artichokes in face down, add salt and pepper, cover the pan with aluminum foil (or not) and then the lid.
– Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer until they are cooked, about 20 minutes. (A knife inserted through the center goes in with little resistance).
For the Wine:
Tom at Personal Wine Buyer recommends a Mas de Bressades Rosé 2007 (click to view complete review) accompany this simple pleasure. Mas des Bressades is considered by many as one of the top estates in Costières de Nîmes, located 35 miles southwest of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, on the western side of the Rhône. All of their wines are worth seeking out because they are consistently well made and very good values.
Their rosé is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 20% Cinsault and is vinified completely in tank. Some people might equate pink wine with sweet, but it is a dry rosé. Raspberry and strawberries come through on the nose. On the palate, it is loaded with lychee and raspberry as well as rose water, wet stone and a hint of white pepper. Solid acidity with a crisp finish that will stand up to the garlic and artichoke flavors.
Rosé wines are usually great food wines and pair well with most foods (except steaks, creamy cow’s milk cheeses). They are especially well paired with dishes that have strong garlic, salt or spicy components. You could also serve Mas de Bressades Viognier/Roussane blend as well. But it’s spring — and for me, the release of the latest vintage of rosé wines is always one of the best rites of spring.