Saturday, April 30, 2011


Artichoke and orange salad.
Artichoke season has come around again. My own artichoke plantation—six plants circling the clementine tree—looks to be thriving, but so far has not sent up any artichokes.
Artichoke flowers.

Artichokes are the flower buds of an edible thistle. Last year, when the ants and aphids took over the plants, I let the buds mature and open to dramatic purple thistle flowers on tall stems. They make a nice addition to dried flower arrangements.

Usually I’m a minimalist about artichokes—I like to cook them whole and untrimmed in salted water and serve them with nothing more than extra virgin olive oil and a wedge of lemon. (For how to eat artichokes, see my blog from last spring .)

Trim artichokes.
 But with an abundance of this classy thistle, I’m delighted to try some more elaborate recipes. This artichoke recipe, of Spanish Sephardic origin, with a lemon and orange marinade, I especially like because I can make it in quantity and keep the trimmed artichokes in their cooking liquid in the fridge for up to a week. Very handy for tossing into a mixed salad or creating an elegant starter.

Scoop out fuzzy chokes.

Artichoke and Orange Salad
Ensalada de Alcachofas y Naranjas

 The artichokes can be prepared a day in advance. Refrigerate them in their liquid. Bring to room temperature before draining and serving.

Serves 6.

2 lemons
10 small artichokes (4 to 5 pounds)
2 oranges
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, slivered
2 cups endive or lettuce leaves to serve
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint to garnish

Put the juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 tablespoon) in a bowl and fill with water. Snap off 2 or 3 layers of outer leaves from the artichokes and cut them crosswise 1/3 the way up from the bottoms, discarding the upper leaves. Cut the bottoms in half and, using a spoon or melon baller, scoop out and discard the fuzzy choke. Place each artichoke bottom as prepared into the lemon water. If desired, the stems can be peeled and cooked with the artichoke bottoms.

Place the artichokes in a saucepan just large enough to hold them. Peel and slice 1 lemon and 1 orange and tuck the slices in with the artichokes. Pour the juice of remaining half lemon over them. Cover with 6 cups of water. Add the salt, oil and slivered garlic.

Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered. Artichokes are done when an outer leaf pulls off easily, about 20 minutes. Remove and let them cool in the liquid.

Before serving, drain the artichokes in a colander, discarding the pieces of cooked orange and lemon. Arrange the artichokes on a bed of endive or lettuce leaves. Peel and slice the remaining orange and tuck the slices in with the artichokes. Sprinkle with mint.

©text, recipes, photos copyright Janet Mendel


  1. Mint and artichoke? OK, I learned something new today. I'm going to have to try the combo.

  2. Thank you Janet, for inspiring our Mother's Day dinner here in Alabama. I cooked artichokes for my wife and children and we all sat outside pulling the green leaves through our teeth and dipping in a slightly chilled alioli. We reminisced of our college days studying together in Spain and as we worked our way to the heart of the beautiful "alcachofa", we all agreed that a part of our hearts will always be in la tierra de España. Thanks again!

  3. Nick: Delighted to inspire memories of España.

  4. I love the bucket of potatoes photo !
    I can almost smell the earth.........
    ( Watchout with your desire to " eat them all !!! )
    XXXX C