Souffles. Poached Eggs. Hollandaise Sauce. All things that are on a list I saw recently of ingredients or dishes that many find intimidating to try. While I am proud to say that I have made (without much fear) some of the items on this list (scallops, rack of lamb, risotto), there is one on there that I agree has intimated me for years. Artichokes.
Now why am I so intimidated by these pretty bulbs? Maybe because I’ve had badly prepared artichokes. Tough, stringy, sharp, bland leaves that make you wonder who on earth ever decided to try and eat these things. Or maybe because I’ve had really well-prepared ones. Tender, rich, delicate and STUFFED. Oh, did I mention that my favorite artichoke preparations include more than just the flower head of these plants? Bread crumbs, cheese, garlic, olive oil–all things that can make just about anything taste good.
But my apprehension remained. Every year when these gorgeous plants would show up at local farmer’s markets, I’d ooo- and ahh- over their pretty green and purple hues, ogle the various sizes produced, and wonder if I’d ever get over myself and just give them a try.
Well, that apprehension finally dissipated on a recent stroll through my favorite Farmer’s Market here in San Antonio–the Pearl Farmers Market. Aside from just being a great location to stroll and gawk at gorgeous produce, the area is a revitalized mixed use space just adjacent to downtown San Antonio. A former brewery, it now houses restaurants, shops, loft apartments, and even one of the three locations of the CIA–The Culinary Institute of America. Yeah, it’s pretty cool even when the market isn’t open on the weekends.
But on those Saturday and Sunday mornings when the vendors put out all of their seasonal produce and other offerings, a stroll through the stalls, cup of coffee and empanada in hand (my favorite market breakfast, FYI), items like these beautiful artichokes called to me enough to make me throw my fear out the window and finally jump in.
I. Am. So. Glad. I. Did.
When another customer told me that they were so much easier than I thought they’d be, she was right. And once I got these beauties home and prepped, we had a delicious appetizer in front of us in no time.
Make these for a crowd and stand back as guests pick their way through the tender leaves and take advantage of the flavorful filling. Serve with a chilled, dry white wine, and you’ve got yourself a party!
No muss, no fuss, and no intimidation in sight.