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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Ingredient of the Week - Purple Artichoke

  Purple Artichoke 
  Originally uploaded by Foodmomiac.

More artichokes!

This gorgeous speciman is a purple artichoke. Not only are they gorgeous, but apparently they have a higher nutritional value than the standard green artichoke. Love that!

I found these at Rhodes, my favorite local produce joint. It's a small, family owned store, but they always have the very best local fruits and vegetables. They also carry some more unique items including tamarind, fiddlehead ferns, sugarcane and... purple artichokes!

I am a huge proponent of roasting vegetables. Give me a head of cauliflower, a bunch of asparagus or some juicy turnips, and into the roasting pan they go. But, for some reason, I had never considered roasting artichokes! I always steamed them, an annoying proposition that never seemed worth the effort. This past month, though, I began seeing a lot a bunch of recipes that called for roasted artichokes. How novel!!

As soon as I saw these gorgeous purple thistles at Rhode's, I knew that they were bound for my oven. I trimmed the stems, cut them in half, scooped out the hairy choke and rubbed both sides with extra virgin olive oil. I then seasoned them generously with salt and freshly ground pepper and popped them into the oven at 400 degrees. After about 20 minutes, I lowered the temperature to 350 degrees and cooked them for 15 minutes more.

These were a revelation. The flavor was nutty and rich. The texture was perfect. I cut out the hearts and used half of them in a Spinach Artichoke Dip. (The other half was eaten standing up at my kitchen counter.) My father-in-law and I devoured the leaves at the dinner table. They would have been lovely dipped in a tangy aioli, but, honestly, they didn't need it. The flavor of the roasted leaves was good enough on its own.

I will be back at Rhode's this coming weekend. I hope these are still around!


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