Tender artichoke hearts. Lemon. Grape tomatoes. Herbs galore. Yum.
A friend served this as the main course at a dinner party I was fortunate to attend a few years ago. She confided that the recipe came from a Jamie Oliver book, The Naked Chef–yet another cookbook I’ve added to my collection. (You can buy the cookbook here on Amazon)
Although thorny artichokes can be downright cranky to prep, they should be a regular part of your culinary repertoire–particularly during the peak of the season that runs from March through May. Rich in folate, dietary fiber, vitamins C and K, magnesium and potassium (whew!), they pack more antioxidants than red wine or chocolate. (I’m thinking that a meal incorporating artichokes and an abundance of red wine and chocolate would be a downright health food trifecta!)
If you live here in California, you have no excuse for not making artichokes a part of your healthy diet. California produces nearly 100% of the U.S. artichoke crop and beautiful artichokes can be found in nearly every market. If you hesitate to serve artichokes because you suffer from artichoke peeling anxiety (let’s call it APA), this video demystifies the process: Video: How to peel an artichoke.
Here is my adaptation of Oliver’s recipe. I served this with a green salad and toasted Israeli couscous from Trader Joe’s. The flat taste of the couscous was a perfect counterpoint to the rich blend of olive oil, lemon and herb flavors in the artichoke dish. Part of enjoying any dish, of course, is the visual experience and this dish doesn’t disappoint. Here, the bright red grape tomatoes, bathed in silky olive oil and with their warm juicy red goodness bursting out of their skins, make this dish pop.
Quite a feast for me on a quiet Friday night. Oliver’s dish is certainly all that and a bag of chips!
Yields 4 Servings
40 minPrep Time
40 minCook Time
1 hr, 20 Total Time
- 4 medium to large globe artichokes
- Olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly-ground pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic (sliced thin)
- A handful of fresh thyme leaves
- A handful of fresh basil leaves (torn)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon (and more for the soaking water for the artichoke hearts)
- 20 ripe cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 small dried red chili (or to taste)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Peel and prepare artichoke hearts. Quarter them and put them in a bowl of water with lemon juice to keep the artichokes from discoloring.
- Add olive oil to a saucepan and sauté artichoke hearts for about 5 minutes with the lid on your pan. Add one half of the garlic, half the thyme and a generous pinch of salt to the pan. Cook (with the lid off the pan) until the garlic softens. Add the lemon juice to the pan and cook until the liquid in the pan has cooked away. Remove from the heat.
- Wash and dry the tomatoes. Put in a bowl with some olive oil, salt and pepper, dried chili, and one half of the torn basil. Mix these ingredients well so that the oil coats the tomatoes. Pour the tomatoes into a baking dish and spread them out evenly.
- Add the artichoke heart quarters to the tomatoes in the baking dish along with the remaining garlic. Sprinkle the remaining thyme and basil over the dish, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
- Bake at 350 degrees F. for 40 minutes.
I served this with Israeli couscous.