The artichoke has always been a mysterious, somewhat sexy vegetable. They're difficult to maneuver, but once you peel back the layers, they can be prepared in a variety of ways. Artichokes are native to the Mediterranean, but have become a California staple (our state provides nearly 100% of the entire U.S.'s supply). In honor of artichoke season, we have rounded up unique, delectable dishes that showcase this regal cardoon.
WOODHOUSE FISH CO. (pictured above)
Artichokes are commonly prepared by hollowing out their centers and stuffing them with a variety of ingredients. Woodhouse presents fresh seafood in their Dungeness crab- and Bay shrimp- stuffed artichoke. Split and perfectly grilled, the artichoke has crispy leaves and a signature plump interior. Dip the leaves in tartar sauce and the shrimp in cocktail sauce, or let the herbs and oil of the grilled artichoke sing on their own.
photo from Tablehopper
Jewish-style artichokes, or carciofi alla giuda, were originally a specialty in Rome. Locanda serves up fried Jewish artichokes, which look almost like blooming sunflowers. The flower part is dipped upside down in hot oil, and finished with sprinkles of salt, a fine chiffonade of mint, and a squeeze of lemon. With the crispiness of the leaves and the tenderness of the heart, it’s a simple yet complex presentation.
Esperpento’s alcachofas a la plancha are a traditional Spanish preparation of our beloved artichoke. Thin slices of raw artichoke are tossed with garlic and oil, and then quickly cooked on a smoking-hot griddle. Served with a simple lemon wedge, the smoky flavor of the artichokes are left to shine. Tender, yet still resistant to the bite, this rustic dish has all the taste without the pretention.
photo by Yelp user Dave K.
This Folsom restaurant serves everything from burgers to paella, beignets to Croque Madames, and BLTs to ravioli. Their eclectic menu features artichoke in two dishes. Their shiitake mushroom ravioli with artichoke hearts and brown butter lemon sauce is an Italian treat, using preserved artichoke hearts. Also try their arugula salad with breaded artichokes, marinated pearl onions, goat cheese, and lemon tarragon vinaigrette for a crunchy, salty start to your meal.
This stylish North Beach Italian trattoria combines seasonal, local produce with the Italian philosophy of allowing the ingredients to speak for themselves. They serve a traditional Italian dish of braised artichokes alla Romana with fresh herbs–otherwise known as artichokes braised in wine and olive oil. The artichokes are trimmed, cleaned, split, and relieved of the choke, then stuffed with an herb and oil mixture (and sometimes breadcrumbs) and gently braised in white wine and olive oil. This basic Italian dish is a simple, yet extraordinary way to present the artichoke.
photo courtesy of Jonas Approved
Luna Park’s grilled artichoke with lemon aioli is a great appetizer to share amongst friends. You can’t go wrong with this simple presentation. The lemon aioli is also a great dip for French fries later in your meal. For something a little more complex and much more rich, try the artichoke heart cream pasta.