It’s almost officially summer. Which in Michigan means that any given time, it is either thunderstorming or it’s 85 degrees. For me, late spring is an important time. The students leave and campus is nice and quiet. The markets open. The farm shares begin. The hot dog stands come out. The garden gets planted. My electricity bill goes way down…for a while. But it also means one very, very important thing: baby vegetables.
I love baby vegetables. They’re tender and sweet and delicate and tiny…and we all know that making food smaller automatically makes it both cuter and delicious-er. My absolute favorite is the elusive baby turnip, which is starting to reach nearly mythical status in my household because I can never find them. I’ve seen them at the market exactly twice in about six years and never in a regular grocery store. They are so delicious, sautéed with butter and chicken stock and then sprinkled with salt and pepper, almost like very delicate Brussels sprouts. If you find any, buy them immediately! Also, send them my way.
But when I can’t have baby turnips (which is apparently all the time), I like to make do with my second favorite option: baby artichokes. I love artichokes in general and the young ones are even more tender and have a nice light flavor. I rarely cook full grown artichokes (I like to order them, but I don’t cook them often) but the baby ones I like to fry in oil until crispy and then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, dip them in tzatziki sauce and go all “Nom nom nom!”
I had actually originally intended last night’s dinner to be just a bowl of baby artichokes, fried and sprinkled with lemon. I wasn’t super hungry, it was warm out and I was on my own, so why not? However, about halfway through preparing this dish, I changed my mind a bit and added one more thing–Mexican chorizo. Thus my dinner consisted of: baby artichokes, olive oil, chorizo, lemon, salt and pepper. And it was delicious. If you don’t count the salt, pepper or olive oil (standard recipe items), then it really only had three ingredients. #win
Artichokes with Chorizo
Serves 1 (main dish) or 2-3 (side dishes)
1lb baby artichokes
the juice of 1 lemon
water for soaking
1 link fresh Mexican chorizo
salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the artichokes: Squeeze half the lemon juice into a bowl of cold water. Cut off the bottom and then peel away the first few layers of tougher outer leaves. You want just the tender inner leaves and the heart. Cut the artichoke in half and place it in the bowl of water. This will keep the artichoke from turning brown.
In a medium-sized skillet over medium high heat, pour in just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the skillet. When the oil is pretty hot, drain the artichokes and dry them thoroughly (very thoroughly–you don’t want excess water hitting that super hot oil; it’s fun to watch but it burns) before adding them to the pan. Fry them until the outer edges are good and crispy, around 5 minutes. Scoop them out of the pan and let them drain on a paper towel, sprinkling them with the rest of the lemon juice and some salt and pepper to your liking.
Keeping the pan on the heat, add in the raw chorizo and sauté until brown and thoroughly cooked through. Add artichokes back into pan, tossing with the chorizo, and then slide the mixture off onto a plate or a bowl. If that’s not enough
fat flavor for you, drizzle the whole thing with a bit of basil oil.
I know you’re going to ask, “Why not just cook the chorizo first and then fry the artichokes in the leftover grease?” And I’m going to answer, “Because I don’t want the artichokes to be overpowered by the flavor of the chorizo. I still want them to taste artichoke-y and chorizo has a very, very strong flavor that I’m afraid would soak into the artichokes while they were frying and then it would be like eating a bowl of crispy green chorizo. Which, while it does sound intriguing, wasn’t what I was going for.”