I’m in love with this dish.
What’s so special?
First, it is a gratin. What is not to love? Second, it has hints of lemon and thyme–a flavor combination that elevates just about any dish in my opinion. And, then, there is the cheese–the glorious gooey cheese. I rest my case.
I’ve had this recipe marked to try for some time. But, truth be told, I have a whole lot of recipes marked to try. If my stack of to-try recipes is any indication, I think there is a long life ahead for the Blue Cayenne Food Blog. By the way, Blue Cayenne will be a year old in October. How is that even possible?
This recipe is from Yotam Ottolenghi’s 2010 cookbook Plenty. I’ve cooked from his wonderful cookbooks before for Blue Cayenne. Here is the link to my adaptation of his Turkish Eggplant with Green Chile Oil that I posted a couple of months ago. It is another exotic dish you might enjoy trying the next time you are in a Middle Eastern frame of mind: Turkish Eggplant with Yogurt and Green Chile Oil
Incidentally, Ottolenghi’s original artichoke gratin recipe is subtle and elegant in its simplicity. It did not include the garnish of cherry tomatoes you see in the photograph, but they were on my counter and needed to be used. I just popped them into a pan with some of my best olive oil and sautéed them lightly. I thought they made the presentation of the dish especially pretty. The tomatoes do, however, make the gratin quite a bit more robust in flavor than Ottolenghi’s original dish. I like the dish both ways and urge you to do your own taste test.
Recipe: Artichoke Gratin
1 3/4 lb. frozen artichoke hearts
Grated zest and juice of 4 large lemons
2 medium onions (thinly sliced)
1/4 C. olive oil
salt and black pepper
3 T. chopped thyme
6 T. chopped parsley
4 T. unsalted butter
1/3 C. plus 1 T. all-purpose flour
1 C. water
1 C. milk
3/4 t. salt
3/4 C. ricotta
6 T. grated Parmesan, Asiago or combination of cheeses
Put frozen artichoke hearts and lemon juice in a pan of boiling water. (I used Trader Joe’s and the small size of the artichoke hearts was perfect.) Simmer until artichokes are tender. Drain.
Salt and pepper sliced onions and sauté in olive oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Onions should be light brown when they are ready.
Stir browned onions (and their oil) into drained artichokes. Add lemon zest, thyme and parsley. Stir. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Prepare the béchamel. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Stir in flour (stirring constantly) and cook for about two minutes until the flour is lightly browned. Mix water and milk in a cup and slowly whisk the liquid mixture into the flour/water mixture. Add salt. Continue to whisk for about ten minutes until the mixture is thick and creamy.
Lightly grease an oven-proof baking dish. Mix the béchamel with the artichoke mixture and spoon mixture into the baking dish.
Using a small spoon, make holes in the artichoke mixture and drop in teaspoons of ricotta.
Cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle cheese over top. Increase oven heat to 400 degrees F. and bake uncovered for an additional 15 or 20 minutes. The cheese layer should turn a golden brown and the béchamel should be bubbling vigorously.
Serve hot or warm.
Cook’s Notes: I doubled the cheese that I sprinkled on the top of the gratin before the final cooking in the oven. I used asiago but I think I will use a mixture of gruyere and asiago next time. I did put the dish under the broiler for a couple of minutes to get a nice golden crust on the cheese.
Also, I made half the recipe and the portion could easily have served 4.