Baked Artichokes with Fennel
- SERVINGS: 4 FIRST-COURSE SERVINGS
Suzanne Goin buys her artichokes at the Santa Monica farmers' market. When shopping for artichokes, choose those that are firm and fresh with tightly closed leaves.
- 4 artichokes (1/2 pound each)
- 1/2 lemon, plus 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium fennel bulbs—trimmed, halved lengthwise, cored and finely chopped
- 1 large red onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus 1/2 cup leaves
- 1/2 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
- Using a sharp knife, trim the artichoke stems to 1 inch and cut off 1 inch from the tops. Using kitchen shears, trim 1/2 inch from the leaves. Halve the artichokes lengthwise and, using a melon baller or spoon, scoop out the small spiky leaves and hairy chokes; leave a few layers of leaves. Rub the cut parts of the artichokes with the halved lemon and set them, cut side down, in a large steamer basket. Steam the artichokes over boiling water until the hearts are tender, about 10 minutes.
- In a large deep skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the oil until shimmering. Add the fennel and onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme, season with salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables are just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, then stir in the chopped parsley.
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Toss the bread crumbs with 1 tablespoon of the oil and spread them on a baking sheet. Toast for about 3 minutes, or until golden. Transfer the crumbs to a plate. Raise the oven temperature to 450°.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a very large skillet. Pat the artichokes dry and add them to the skillet, cut side down. Cook over moderate heat until deep golden, about 4 minutes. Arrange the artichokes, cut side up, in a large baking dish and fill them with the fennel mixture. Sprinkle with the toasted bread crumbs and bake for about 15 minutes, or until heated through.
- Arrange 2 artichoke halves on each of 4 plates. In a bowl, toss the parsley leaves with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and the 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Top the artichokes with the parsley and serve.
Artichokes make wines taste sweeter, so stick to a whitethe effect is less noticeable. This rich, aromatic dish points to a full-bodied Chardonnay. Look for fruity California bottles.