Artichoke Oasis

Last year, we planted one small artichoke plant in our backyard.  A few months later, the plant produced two artichokes, but we weren’t quick enough to pick them.  The artichokes turned into bright purple blooms, becoming inedible.  I wasn’t going to let that happen this year, and I diligently checked on the plant to see how it was progressing.

We were right to follow advice to plant the artichoke plant away from the rest of our vegetable garden, as it continued to grow very large, resembling a giant weed.  Allowed to grow unhindered, the plant now has a six-foot diameter, taking up an entire corner of our backyard garden.

I watched the plant get bigger and bigger, fearing that it was only growing in size without producing any of my precious artichokes.  But then suddenly, 11 small artichokes began to appear, and I eagerly anticipated my first bite.

Last week, I picked the first two artichokes, washed and prepared them by removing the sharp points, and steamed them.  I served them my favorite way, served only with balsamic-lemon mayonnaise (see My Kind of Thistle).  They were so fresh and delicious, I did the same thing again a few days later.

I’ve still got about 7 globes on their way (now ranging in golf-ball-size to tennis-ball-size, so they’ve got a little growing left to do), and I’m stumped for ways to prepare them.  Artichokes are one of my favorite vegetables, so I’m nowhere close to tiring of them, but I’m pretty sure I could be doing a lot more.  I thought about spinach-artichoke dip, but that seems to benefit from the least natural forms of vegetables (i.e. frozen spinach and marinated artichoke hearts from a jar).  I’m compiling my list of ideas, ready for the exact moment more artichokes are ready.  In the meantime, I’m happy sitting in the garden, watching them grow.

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