Artichokes in North America—at least in the part of North America where I live—are usually so hideously expensive that I can’t imagine buying them except for very special occasions. For the price of a single artichoke at Whole Foods, I can buy a dozen at any Italian street market, and they are almost always much fresher and tastier too. So I look for recipes that let these crown jewels of the vegetable kingdom be extended, and potatoes and onions are excellent for that purpose. If you can’t find small artichokes, use just four of the giant ones from California.
MAKES 6 TO 8 SERVINGS
- Peel the potatoes and cut into slices approximately 1/4 inch thick. Toss the sliced potatoes into a bowl of water as you finish to keep them from darkening.
- Squeeze half a lemon into another bowl of water. Cut the artichokes into quarters (or more segments if they are very large) and remove their center chokes if necessary. Rub the cut surfaces with the other half lemon and toss the artichokes into the water as you finish each one.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Drain the potatoes and the artichokes and combine in a bowl with the onion slices and the garlic. Add the salt and pepper, the minced herbs of your choosing, the bay leaves (broken in half), and 1/3 cup of the olive oil. Toss to mix everything well and to coat the vegetables with olive oil. Spread the mixture in a gratin dish (one that is safe to use on the stovetop) so that they will just fit without a great deal of overlap.
- Set the gratin dish over medium heat and when the oil starts to sizzle, add the lemon juice and boiling water to come about halfway up the sides of the dish. Trickle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the top.
- Cover the dish securely with aluminum foil and carefully transfer it to the oven. Roast for about 30 minutes, then remove the foil and spoon some of the juices over the vegetables. Raise the heat to 400°F and return the gratin dish to the oven, uncovered. Cook until most of the liquid has boiled away and the vegetables are sizzling in the oil, about 15 minutes longer.
- Serve immediately, with lemon wedges to squeeze on top.
From Nancy Harmon Jenkins Cookbook “Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil”