Every spring, Diane and I go through the annual “What veggies are we going to plant?” ritual.
First the weather starts to warm and we begin to crave more than leafy greens, sugar snap peas, radishes, and carrots. We’ll hit Home Depot and nearly buy a bunch of boring varieties which we don’t really want but that is all they have because is it too early in the season. We’ll barely hold off on purchasing, then two days later the weather will drop winter cold again and we congratulate ourselves on not buying too early.
Repeat two more times.
Finally we can’t take it anymore and the inevitable excursions to our favorite nurseries and farmers’ markets takes place. By now the cool stuff is available and we buy twice the amount of varieties of what we originally intended. Mostly tomatoes, bell peppers, chilies, and eggplant.
Good nurseries and growers are dangerous. The 3″ pots costing a mere $2-4 each. We’ll find some of our favorite varieties: tomatoes like the Anna Russian, Kentucky Beefsteak, Sun Golds (which we don’t even need to buy since it always reseeds itself, but we do anyway), chilies like the padron, shishito, a medley of habaneros.
Of course in searching for the favorites, we’ll discover a bunch of new-to-us types and have to get a few of those. Somehow the bill ends up being $70-$80 of $3 or $4 items by the time we hit the register. Then a couple days later we think of a favorite we forgot to get and head back to the nurseries.
One veggie I always want, but we never buy, is to grow artichokes. They just take up soooo much room and I can’t convince Diane to sacrifice some of her radish or beet soil allocation. I’m not giving up my arugula space either and it is unthinkable to reduce any of the tomatoes or chilies growing room.
But this year we’ve added a couple more raised planters, and I finally badgered Diane enough that she relented one corner to artichokies. Especially after reminding her that she could use the blossoms for styling and table decorations!
The main reason I want to grow the artichokes is for the baby artichokes. I love them. So cute and tender I could just eat them up. Wait… I do eat them up. Strip them, then slice, fry, salt, and devour them. Sounds a little S&M like, but it sure is tasty.
Here’s a recipe for one of our favorite ways to cook up the baby artichokes, Fried Minted Baby Artichokes. Tasty little tidbits we tend to eat much more than we intend to. One note on making them, be very liberal in stripping away the outer leaves. As a general rule, the darker the color the leaf, then tougher it will be after frying. Usually I’ll strip almost half of the leaves off of store bought baby artichokes.
If you like the crunchy outer leaves feel free to strip a little less. You can always strip more leaves off after frying if you change your mind. You can also make this with the “adult” artichokes, but you might want to scoop out the choke (the little hairs over the heart.)
We’d love to hear what everyone else is planning for or excited to grow this year. What’s your favorite varieties or what are you trying to make room for. Garden Geeks Unite!
Fried Minted Artichoke Recipe
Yield: Serves 2-3.
Total Time: 15 minutes
Be very liberal in stripping the leaves off of the artichokes when prepping. The outer leaves will fry up tougher. If you need to, you can always strip more leaves off after frying. Make sure oil is hot before starting to fry, and pull garlic just before it reaches golden brown, as it will become bitter if overcooked.
- 12 Baby Artichokes
- 10 cloves Garlic
- @ 40 large Mint Leaves, finely sliced
- 1/2 Lemon, cut into wedges
- Sea Salt
- oil for frying
Prep the Artichokes
- Strip away the outer leaves until they are a very light green (usually about 1/3 -1/2 of the outer leaves). Trim the end of the stem and the top of the artichokes. Slice in half.
- Pour enough oil in a large saute pan to fill 1/4" deep. Heat over med-high heat. When oil is hot, place artichokes cut side down in a single layer (fry in batches if necessary) scatter garlic cloves between the artichokes and add half of the mint.
- Fry until garlic and artichokes until lightly golden (about 2-3 minutes) then flip and fry until just done (about another 2 minutes). Make sure to pull garlic out just before being it is fully golden as it will continue to cook a bit more after being removed from oil and will become bitter if overcooked.
- Drain on paper towels, squeeze a little lemon juice over artichokes, season with sea salt and toss with remaining mint leaves. Plate with additional lemon wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Recipe Note for Salt: All recipes containing salt are based on kosher or sea salt amounts, not table salt. If using table salt, reduce the amount used to taste.