In addition to supplying the Arenales kitchen with lamb, tomatoes and mint, Victoria Amory's family cortijo (farm) provides artichokes by the bushel in early spring. Sometimes they get stuffed with meat sauce; sometimes the fat bottoms are pureed to make artichoke soup; and sometimes, as here, the tender hearts are simmered with Serrano ham and the season's first peas to make an addictive side dish.
Warming Soup Recipes
1 lemon, halved
6 large artichokes
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup finely julienned Serrano ham
1 cup frozen peas
Freshly ground pepper
How to Make It
Fill a large bowl with water and squeeze the juice from one of the lemon halves into it. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, snap off the tough outer leaves. Using a sharp knife, cut off the top two-thirds of the leaves and trim the base and stem. Using a melon baller or teaspoon, scrape out the furry choke. Rub the remaining lemon half all over the artichoke, then add the artichoke to the lemon water. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the bay leaf, a large pinch of salt and the drained artichoke hearts. Simmer over moderate heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and cut each artichoke heart into eight wedges.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the flour, then stir in the wine until smooth. Add the Serrano ham and artichoke wedges and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally to blend the flavors, about 5 minutes. Add the peas and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season the stew with salt and pepper and serve.
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