Crisped Artichokes with Gremolata

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Artichokes

Pan-fried chokeless tiny artichokes are a modern nod to the Roman Jewish classic, deep-fried carciofi alla giudia. Finished with gremolata, the indispensable Italian seasoning of finely chopped parsley, garlic, and lemon zest, they are delicious on their own or over braised lamb shanks. Try baby purple Fiesole or Campania varieties, which retain a lavender blush after cooking. So-called baby artichokes are actually the small offshoots away from the main thistle of the artichoke plant. No matter how tiny your artichokes may be, you must be ruthless about peeling away the tough outer layers to render them fully edible. Although available year-round, small and large artichokes are at their peak in spring.  

Shopping tip: Some artichoke varieties are tulip shaped with slightly flared outer leaves; others are globe shaped with leaves that curl inward. Either way, choose firm, closed artichokes that are heavy for their size. A few dusty frost marks are okay, but avoid artichokes with blackened leaves. Store artichokes loose in the coldest part of the refrigerator and, ideally, use them within a few days. 

How to trim artichokes: Bend back the darker green or purple leaves to the point at which they snap off the base. Continue until you reach very pale leaves. Using a paring knife, shave away any dark remnants at the base. Cut off the top of the artichoke to remove the prickly tips, then cut in half lengthwise. Tiny artichokes, 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm), should be choke-free (the inedible fuzzy core). Slightly larger artichokes may have a bit of fuzz at their core that you can scoop out with a paring knife or grapefruit spoon. Large artichokes have large chokes that must be cut away.

  • Duration
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  • 8Servings

Ingredients

Artichokes

  • Juice of 2 lemons , plus one lemon for garnish
  • 1 cup (235 ml) water
  • 3 pounds (1.4 kg) small artichokes, about 3 inches (7.5 cm) long (not including stalk)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Finishing salt, such as Maldon sea salt or fleur de sel
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Gremolata

  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Leaves of ½ bunch Italian parsley

Preparation

1. Make the Gremolata: Using a five-hole zester, remove the zest in long strands from 2 of the lemons. Chop 1 clove of the garlic, then mince it together with the parsley and zest. Set aside.

2. To prepare the Crisped Artichokes: Juice the 2 lemons into a bowl and add the water. Trim the artichokes, then cut each artichoke half into quarters or thirds lengthwise. As you work, drop the pieces into the water.

3. Remove the artichokes from the lemon water and dry well. Line a sheet pan with paper towels and place near the stove. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and swirl in olive oil to a depth of about ⅛ inch (3 mm). When the oil starts to shimmer and a piece of artichoke dropped into it sizzles on contact, add the remaining garlic clove and one third to one half of the artichokes, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook, turning the pieces as needed, until well browned on both sides and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes, removing and discarding the garlic from the pan as soon as it is golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer artichokes to the sheet pan and season liberally with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining artichokes.

4. To serve, line a platter with parchment or brown paper, if you like, and arrange the artichokes on it. Scatter the gremolata over the top. Cut the remaining lemon into wedges and add them to the platter. The artichokes can be served warm or at room temperature.

Reprinted with permission from The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen © 2015 by Amelia Saltsman, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.