Growing up, I ate a lot of artichokes because they were one of my mother’s favorite vegetables. She had this one recipe that she would make almost every week once they became available during this time of the year.
I loved that dish, and for some reason, I never inquired about any other way of cooking them. But then after college, I moved to the US and that was when I was introduced to different kinds of artichokes and ways of cooking them.
About Baby Artichokes
For many years, around this time of the year, I saw baby artichokes in the supermarket, but I always felt intimidated by them. I guess I just didn’t know what to make with them. But then last week, coincidently, Heidi (of 101cookbook.com) wrote a blog post called A few words on how to cook artichokes. In her article she said, “A lot of people are intimidated by the process, or they think it’s not worth the effort. But with a little patience, salt, and fat – you can absolutely cook some of the best artichokes of your life.” After reading through her post, I felt encouraged to give it a try. And to my surprise, it was much easier than I thought.
First, I needed to learn how to peel them. I had no idea how much of the leaves needed to be discarded. Since I am a visual person I did a quick YouTube search, which revealed several how-to videos. Of all the videos I watched, I found the method used in Cooking Light’s video to be the most helpful. If you give it a watch you will see, it is not that difficult. Once you get a hang of it, it takes less than 15 minutes to get them ready for cooking.
How to cook Baby Artichokes
Once they were peeled and trimmed, it was time for me to make a decision as to how to cook/serve them. After a quick Google search I found some great recipes from some of my favorite bloggers like this Crispy Lemon Roasted Baby Artichokes, Roasted Baby Artichokes and Pearl Onions, and Roasted Baby Artichokes with Black Pepper and Lemon Vinaigrette. However, all these recipes were using the same method of roasting them in the oven or cooking them in a pan with little fat to get a crusty outer skin. Undoubtedly, they were incredibly delicious. However, I wanted to create something different. If you think about it, who needs a similar recipe when variations of it have already been published on the internet?
Then I did what I always do. I picked up my favorite vegetarian cookbook, Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I find this book to be one of my go-to cookbooks when it comes to cooking vegetables because it covers basic methods of cooking almost every vegetable that are commonly found in supermarkets. Plus, since I met her in person and ate her food, I knew that her recipes and methods were infact, foolproof.
How this Warm Braised Baby Artichoke Salad with White Beans and Manchego recipe came about
In her book, in addition to a recipe for roasted and grilled artichokes, she had a recipe for braising them. I decided to go with her Braised Baby Artichokes recipe, which ended up being so delicious that we could have easily eaten it all just by itself. However, I wanted to take it a step further and create a dish that could be served next to meat dishes or by itself as a light dinner. But I had no idea what to pair it with. To find the answer, I referred to another one of my go-to cookbooks, The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. This book is basically a resource that outlines pairings for each and every vegetarian ingredient that you can think of. Even if you are not a recipe creator, I still recommend it as it gives you an idea as to what ingredients work well together and how to pair them up.
Come to find out, one of baby artichokes’ flavor affinities were white beans, capers, fresh herbs, lemons, and Parmesan cheese. Luckily, I had everything on hand except the Parmesan cheese. But I had Manchego, which I thought would be compatible. Once the artichokes were braised, I quickly assembled the salad with the rest of the ingredients. It ended up being a delicious warm salad that we all loved. Not to mention, it looked so pretty.
On a final note: Though prepping the baby artichokes for cooking requires a little patience, braising them and putting the salad together takes less than 30 minutes. Here, one thing I would like to recommend is that you peel as many leaves as possible. I know it feels like you are wasting most of the vegetable, but if you do not do so you end up with very chewy artichokes. The method she uses in the video that I mentioned earlier is a pretty good one.
Warm Braised Baby Artichoke Salad with White Beans and Manchego
For braised baby artichokes:
- 4 cups of water
- 1 lemon
- 20-24 baby artichokes
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 6-7 sage leaves chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 black pepper freshly ground
- 2 bay leaves
For the salad:
- 1 15 oz. can of white (Cannellini or Navy) beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup of capers drained
- 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley
- salt and pepper
- 4 oz. or a small block of Manchego cheese shaved
- lemon wedges to serve it with
- Place water in a large bowl. Squeeze the lemon into the water. Place the squeezed lemon halves in the water as well. Remove the tough outer leaves of the artichokes. Cut in half and trim pointy tops and stems. Drop them into the bowl.
- Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan with a lid over medium heat. Add in the chopped sage leaves. Fry leaves for a minute. Stir in the garlic and cook stirring constantly for 30 seconds.
- Using a slotted spoon, fish out the baby artichokes and transfer them to the sauté pan. Pour in 1 1/2 cup of the lemon&water into the pan as well. Discard the rest of the water. Give it a large stir, season it with salt and pepper, put the lid on, and cook in medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes or until artichokes are tender.
- When baby artichokes are cooked, spoon them out and place them into a large mixing bowl. Let the remaining liquid reduce until 1/2 to 3/4 cup remains, 10 minutes or so.
- To assemble: Add in the white beans, capers, and parsley into the bowl with the artichokes. Pour the warm reduced liquid over the salad. Taste for seasoning and add in if necessary. Give it a gentle stir.
- Transfer the salad into a large oval serving plate. Shave thin slices of Manchego cheese over the top. Serve, while still warm, with lemon wedges.
- The salad is still good when it is served cold. As long as it is kept in an airtight container in the fridge it will keep its freshness for 2 days.
Spring is the perfect time for baby artichokes in Izmir, Turkey.
They have those tender beauties with their nutty flavor. I will try this recipe with out beautiful baby artichokes.
Happy to hear that Zeynep. Cheers!
Traci | Vanilla And Bean
I love this post, Aysegul! So full of fabulous resources. Thank you for that and for this gorgeous salad. I just started preparing artichokes last year at home. We went to a farm to table restaurant and I experienced the most incredibly prepared fresh artichoke of my life. I’ve not looked back since. But. I’ve never had a baby artichoke. Around here, I have to wait until the full size come out as babies are difficult to find. However, I’ll be on the look out. I couldn’t agree more about the Flavor Bible. it is my go to and jam packed with inspiration. Absolutely love your choice of ingredients for this beautiful salad! xo
Thank you so much for your kind words Traci. I find baby artichokes a little easier (and quicker) than the regular ones. Not to mention, they are adorable. Definitely, worth being on the look out.
And flavor bible… It is a truly an amazing resource. I just can’t imagine my life (and this blog) without it.
Thanks again, my dear friend.
Beeta @ Mon Petit Four
This salad looks so so delectable! I love artichokes, and I love braising them! I always feel guilty discarding so many of the leaves but, like you said, you just have to. I love that you paired yours with white beans and manchego – both are so yummy and favorites of mine <3
Hi Beeta.. Yes, it is hard and it feels like you are wasting the whole thing, but it is necessary.
Thank you for stopping by my friend. Hope you are doing well. <3
Laura&Nora @Our Food Stories
these photos are SO stunning!! <3 <3
Aww thank you Ladies.. <3
danielle // rooting the sun
so happy to visit your beautiful space aysegul – this dish moves me completely – the kind of food that comforts my soul and keeps me returning for more. my mother was a huge artichoke lover as well, instilling the same passion inside of me. and yes, at first they are intimidating – and then the smoke is lifted and they are best. i adore them here with white beans. xoxo
Aww thank you Danielle for your kind words. They mean so much to me. <3
I was surprised how good they turned out when paired up with white beans and capers. 🙂
Such a stunning salad, Aysegul. I would be happy eating every single thing that you make. We love artichokes as well, although my kids are so happy just eating them steamed with lemon butter that I hardly think to do anything else. This salad though… I hope I get a chance to try this. I love Deborah Madison’s book too and am feeling envious that you got to meet her and eat her food! It truly is such a gem of a cookbook. Another gorgeous post, girl!
Ohh Emily.. Aren’t artichokes the best? You are so lucky that your kids love them. I understand most kids don’t care to much about them.
Yes, Deborah Madison was such a nice lady. It was such a coincidence to meet her but I enjoyed it so much.
Thank you my friend. <3
Su (Suvelle Cuisine)
Oh… I’m still intimidated by them, but your salad is just so appealing that I’m decided to try it out.
Oh hi Su! Don’t be. Seriously, once you get a hang of it, they are so easy to work with. Watch the videos in the post and let me know if I can help you in any way..
Thank you. <3
These photos are absolutely stunning, Aysegul! Just so beautiful. And the dish sounds delicious. Loved this so much!
Aww thank you Cynthia. I really appreciate your kind words. <3
Christine | Vermilion Roots
I’m so loving the recipes you share here. One of my goals this year is to learn to cook new vegetables and I recently subscribed to a CSA box. Artichokes is one of those intimidating ones, but I do hope to give them a try soon! 🙂
Thank you Christine. I used to think that they are very hard to cook, but after playing with them I realized that they are not that difficult to cook with. Just a little patience, that is it. 🙂
Good luck with the CSA box.
Thanks again for your kind words, my friend. <3
I, too, am intimidated by the process of prepping artichokes, so I love that you give me all those useful links to follow. I will check them out shortly. Thanks, Ice. 🙂
Also, I really do like this salad. I can almost taste this delicious combination. What a fantastic idea that is. And of course, I LOVE your gorgeous photos. xoxo
Oh Pang.. Thanks my friend. Coming from you, it means so much.
Yes, this salad ended up a winner in our house. I just love the wholeness that the white beans and capers added to the dish. I hope you’ll try it some day.
Dear Aysegul, what a beautiful post! I love artichokes how my mum makes them, filled with breadcrumbs, parmesan, herbs, lots of parsley, olive oil… and I would love to try this version too! oh and that artichokes in the bowl photo is for the book cover, so gorgeous!!
Dearest Lili.. Thank you so much for your kind words. They mean so much to me.
Artichokes filled with breadcrumbs sound so SO good. Next time I am going to cook them with breadcrumbs..
Sending much love to your way. <3
This is my absolute dream of a dish, all my favourite ingredients in one.
Thank you Jasmin!