Artichokes are one of spring’s treats. The green earthy flavor with a smooth texture pairs well with lemon, tomato, and grilled flavors. This dish is an old Sephardic favorite from Turkey that my Nona Chiprut used to make. It takes a little patience to pair down all those artichokes. When I was a child, I remember they purchased them in wood crates full. Artichokes are a traditional side dish for Passover. This recipe is kosher for Passover and parve so you can serve it at any meal during the holiday.
For 8-10 servings:
4 large fresh artichokes
1 whole lemon cut in quarters
1 large bowl of cold water
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 small piece red bell pepper charred, peeled, diced (optional)
Place the lemon quarters in the bowl of cold water, squeezing a little juice into the water first. Wash the artichokes, snap off all the crisp outer leaves and then slice off the center yellow leaves at the top of the heart section above the choke.
Leaving about an inch of the stem attached to the artichoke, cut off and discard the rest of the stem. Peel the attached part of the stem. Working quickly, with a grapefruit spoon or a melon ball scooper, scoop out the choke or thistle part in the center. Be sure to get all the little hairs. Place the artichokes into the bowl of acidulated water.
When all the artichokes are ready, remove from the water one by one, cut them in half and then in half again. Preheat a braising dish or saucepan. Add the olive oil and then the artichokes. Sauté until they begin to show some golden color and season with salt. When they have taken on a light golden look, add the lemon juice, honey, and water. Cover the pan but leave the lid ajar. Cook for about 15-20 minutes longer. The liquid will reduce to a slightly thick sauce. You may serve this cold or hot. Garnish with the parsley or red pepper.