Friday, June 8, 2007

Re-Introducing: The Artichoke

Circa 1961: Julia Child breaks down the boiled artichoke for the American cooking public "Hot or cold boiled artichokes are served as a separate course, either at the beginning of the meal or in place of a salad."

But really, when was the last time you ate a cold boiled artichoke in place of a salad?

Circa 2007: My mom craves the now-retro dish as the salad for a small dinner gathering the other night. And she commissioned my help for the "stuffing." Which was cold little shrimp tossed in a simple herbed vinagraitte. At this point, I couldn't help but wonder: "Does anyone ever serve cold boiled artichokes anymore?" As I stuffed the chokes with the marinated mini cocktail shrimp, I couldn't help but imagine this was more the type of dish a downtrodden smiling housewife circa 1965 would whip up when her hubby's boss came to dinner. For a second, I wondered if we should be serving a nice pot roast instead of organic roasted chicken breasts stuffed with goat cheese, but as I finished up with the chokes, I became more intrigued with the concept. I arranged them on a platter, and they actually looked great. As we sat down, with the chicken, a light, Mediterranean-style pasta and the artichoke salad, it actually fit quite nicely. And I have to say, they were delicious. Strange, but delicious.

Cold Artichoke Salad with Shrimp Stuffing:

4 large artichokes
1 lb cooked, chilled baby cocktail shrimp

Herbed Dressing:
1 C. Olive Oil
1/3 C. champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon freshly chopped Thyme
1 Tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the artichokes until tender. Strain and let cool. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Reserving 3 Tablespoons, generously coat the shrimp with the dressing, and allow to marinate while the artichokes cool. When the chokes are cool, slice them in half lengthwise, and scoop out the hearts, creating a small hollow in the center of the choke. Firmly stuff about 2 Tablespoons of shrimp into the hollow. Drizzle the resrved dressing over the chokes, and serve. These can also be prepared ahead, and chilled until ready to serve.