Little "Roman" Artichokes with Mint & Lemon
I love artichokes- especially the purple colored "Romane" variety- they just look so wonderful! But wait! Hang on just a minute, you cry! Those are the greenest purple artichokes I ever did see! Well, that is because they change color during cooking- much in the same way that shrimp do, which is a little bit sad but true. I would rather have them change from green to purple- but there you go!
I decided to keep the flavors simple with these this evening, sticking to the traditional seasonings from back home in Sicily, of garlic, mint and lemon. The only other flavors here were those of my "Salt of the Earth" again... but I think even a mighty emperor would have approved of that!
The first thing I did was to cut myself a couple of slices of lemon for later- which immediately gave me the 2 wonderful end-pieces of the lemon, to cover the cut surfaces and prevent the artichokes from discoloring. So I cut off the stems, plucked off the tough, outer leaves and then cut each artichoke in half. As soon as it was cut, I used the end pieces of the lemon to rub over the cut edges. I then took a small knife and carefully cut out the "choke", which is plainly visible and easy to do.
I then finely chopped a little garlic and a lot of mint, and squeezed this in-between the leaves, so that they would be seasoned whilst they steamed. I added salt and pepper and bid them farewell for 45 minutes, on a steam rack, in a small saucepan, with a little water. Once the artichokes were steamed and tender and smelling wonderfully of mint, I sliced and halved a lemon and laid a half slice on top of each artichoke. I drizzled them with olive oil, honey and my salt mixture and popped them into a pre-heated oven, at 400°F for 3-4 minutes, and then a further 2 minutes under the broiler to get them nice and brown.
The fun comes when you come to eat these little beauties :-) When you pick the artichokes up, give them a little squeeze, so that the lemon juice and honey get soaked up in the leaves, then, holding them by the end-parts of the leaves, bite right into the juicy, succulent end piece... and oh boy! So tender and mild and deliciously brought to life by the citrus and honey- and of course all of that mint and garlic inside! Hope you like them!