Baby artichokes grow on the same plant as globe artichokes and are harvested at the same time. The artichokes we call “baby” in the U.S. are smaller because they grow lower on the plant. Because they grow on the lower part of the stalk, the large artichoke shields baby artichokes from the sun, which effectively stunts their growth. They are available all year, but are in season and freshest from March to May.
Unlike the American version that goes by the same name, European baby artichokes are baby — or younger — versions of globe artichokes. While American baby artichokes are harvested at the same time as the bigger versions, European baby artichokes are harvested early.
How to prepare
- Pull off the green outer leaves to expose the pale yellow ones. Have a bowl of lemony water at the ready.
- Using a serrated knife, trim an inch off the top of the artichoke. Spin it around and trim the cut end of the stem.
- Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to shave off the dark, tough layer of the stem ad underside of the heart.
- Halve the artichoke lengthwise and scoop out the choke. Put it in the acidulated (lemon) water so it won’t turn brown.
It takes no time to peel off the outer petals and trim a couple of pounds of these diminutive artichokes, perhaps with a cool glass of pinot grigio for encouragement. I suspect that, once you learn how to cook them, you’ll make them a regular part of your vegetable repertory. The only other ingredients you need for this Roman favorite are olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic and parsley. When the prep work is done — it can be finished well in advance — the artichokes need less than 10 minutes in the pan.
Eat them warm as a snack with drinks, or as a part of an antipasto with slices of prosciutto and fresh mozzarella, or spoon them over roasted halibut or spaghetti.
Be creative - remember you only need olive oil, salt, pepper, red chili flakes, garlic and parsely - but if you want more direction, some recipes follow:
Sauteed Baby Artichokes
This recipe comes to us courtesy of chef and author James Peterson. MARTHA STEWART LIVING TELEVISION
- 18 baby artichokes, (about 2 1/2 pounds)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced and crushed to a paste
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Using a sharp paring knife, trim the outermost layer of leaves from each artichoke. Trim stems, and cut off top half of each artichoke. As you trim them, place them in a medium bowl; add lemon juice, and toss to coat.
Transfer artichokes to a medium nonreactive saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover artichokes by 1 inch. Using a small heat-proof plate, weigh down the artichokes to keep them submerged. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer artichokes until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a colander to drain.
Cut artichokes in half lengthwise. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add artichokes in a single layer, and cook until hot, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and parsley. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute longer. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
BAKED BABY ARTICHOKES
Deborah Mele 2011, ItalianFoodForever.com
- 12 to 16 Baby Artichokes
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- 1 Cup Dry White Wine
- 3 Cloves Garlic, Peeled & Crushed
FOR THE TOPPING:
- 1 Cup Bread Crumbs (Preferably Homemade)
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Zest, Finely Chopped
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
- 3 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Fresh Parsley
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Additional Oil For Drizzling
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Clean the artichokes by peeling the stems, chopping off the top third, and peeling off the outer, tough leaves.
- Keep the prepared artichokes in a bowl of water with a little lemon added to prevent discoloration while you finish cleaning the rest.
- In a casserole dish large enough to hold all of the artichokes, add the artichokes, the garlic, olive oil and white wine.
- Add a little water if needed to bring the level up to almost cover the artichokes, cover, and then bake them in the preheated oven until they are tender.
- Usually this will take between 20 to 30 minutes.
- Remove the artichokes from the oven, and increase the temperature to 400 degrees F.
- Pour off any excess liquid from the cooked chokes, and set aside.
- Mix together the ingredients listed for the topping, and sprinkle this over the artichokes in the casserole dish.
- Drizzle on a little additional olive oil, and bake the artchokes just until the topping becomes golden brown, about 10 minutes.
- Serve immediately, or at room temperature.