Braised Artichokes and Peas
I get really excited when I see this dish. Sometimes it’s artichokes with potatoes, and sometimes it’s flavored with lots of dill, but it’s a seasonal dish, and you only get it when there are fresh artichokes available. In Skopelos my friends used to sit on their door stoops laboriously trimming the artichokes for the day’s lunch, and then, when refrigerators, and consequently freezer sections, became part of daily life, they would freeze bags of artichoke bottoms and still have the luxury of artichoke dishes when the crop was done. In our world of frozen artichoke bottoms and frozen peas, you can have this anytime, but of course, fresh and in season is an even bigger treat.
- 2 large or 3 or 4 small artichokes (or a package of frozen artichoke bottoms, thawed)
- ½ lemon
- 2 tablespoons chopped yellow onion
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic
- 2 pounds fresh peas—unshelled weight (or a ten-ounce package of frozen peas, thawed)
- 1 tablespoon fresh (flat leaf) parsley
- salt, fresh-ground pepper
- If you’re using frozen artichokes, you can begin by cutting them into halves or quarters, rubbing the cut artichoke with lemon to keep it from discoloring. For fresh artichokes, trim them all the way down to the base, removing the chokes, keeping the stems but trimming away the stems bottoms and the green outer layers of the stems. Use the lemon as you trim. (If you need instructions on trimming artichokes, you can find online sites to pictorially take you through it, or Marcella Hazan’s book, Classic Italian Cooking, will walk you through it with illustrations.)
- Sauté the chopped onion in olive oil over medium-high heat until it’s translucent. Use a pan large enough to hold all the ingredients, and when the onion is translucent, add the garlic and cook until lightly colored. Add the artichokes with 1⁄3 cup of water, cover, turn the heat down to medium, and cook for ten minutes.
- Add the chopped parsley, ½ teaspoon salt, a few twists of pepper, and, if the pan needs water, add a half cup. If you are using fresh peas, add them now, cover the pot, and cook until the artichokes and peas are both tender. If you are using frozen peas, wait until the artichokes are completely tender and then add the frozen peas, cover the pan, and cook until everything is heated through.
- Taste for salt and tenderness. If there is too much liquid left in the pan, uncover the pan, turn the heat up to high, and boil the water away rapidly.
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