make your own: marinated artichokes

marinated artichokes

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marinated artichokes

marinated artichokes

Artichokes. The very mention of them used to send a ripple of fear through my body. When I would pass them in the market in Montreal I couldn’t help but approach and reach out to pick one up, then my terror would take over as I zoomed in on those pointy tips and that unapologetic stem. It would look at me, snarling as if to say, “What? You got a problem with me?” Such a bully. I mean, aren’t artichokes technically thistles? Where do they get off, anyway?


Finally I knew I had to do something. I couldn’t let this gnarly green veg get the better of me! So I started snarling back, and then I hit a breakthrough. I actually bought one and brought it home. Aha! So there, you prickly little monster! You’re in my fridge! What are you gonna do about it? Ah yes, I felt quite proud of myself. I even bragged to a fellow food lover: “Oh I picked up the most gorgeous artichoke from the market yesterday!” “Cool! What are you going to do with it?” And then it hit me. I had taken the thing captive without any idea as to how to bring it under my submission. It had won again!

Time and again I tried dragging artichokes to my lair apartment, where they would stay crammed in my crisper until finally I would resort to the ever-predictable Throw It in a Pot With Water and Dip It in Butter. Not that this was not delicious. But with each splosh of the leaf in the melted butter, I knew with undeniable certainty: This artichoke has me beat.

artichoke hearts

I reluctantly gave it a rest for a while and moved on to tackling other feats. One of which, was to move to South America. 4 months in to our move, I was strolling through the supermarket near our apartment, mini dictionary in hand and a familiar feeling of foggy confusion over what I was seeing. (The meat section still has me baffled. “What cut of beef is that? Wait, that’s not beef…”) I mumble to myself a lot in the supermarket. I’m pretty sure the guys who stalk the shelves have come to refer to me as ‘that crazy white lady’. Ah well.

So there I am, strolling, mumbling, when my eyes catch something that immediately triggers a familiar feeling inside me. My eyes narrow, my mouth tightens and my fist clenches around my Larousse Spanish/English. “Artichokes. So we meet again.” They stare back at me, with equal intensity. Their appearance is somewhat altered; missing are the pointy spikes I am used to on the tips of the leaves. And the snarls come out in rapid Spanish, which I think I understand but cannot be sure. And they know it.

But here’s the thing with all that Latin confidence: I have moved to another continent where I had never before visited, surrounded by people speaking a language I had never before learned. If I can do that, I can beat this artichoke! It was time.

marinated artichokes recipe:
4 artichokes
piece of lemon
1/4 cup white vinegar
good quality olive oil
10 peppercorns
several sprigs of thyme
1 small jalapeño, sliced
pinch of salt

Take a deep breath. Look at the artichokes head on, and show them who’s boss.

There are many schools of thought on taking an artichoke apart. I just started tearing into those hard outer leaves with my hands. It felt more savage and appropriate. You can lop the top off with a knife, but I didn’t cut too much off at first, because I preferred to keep more than I needed, rather than cutting too far down and losing tasty edible bits! You can always trim more later.

Once you’ve got the rough, dark green leaves off, it’s time to deal with the stem. Often people will just tear it off and chuck it, but there is a lot of flavor in that stem! Using a peeler, carefully peel the outer skin of the stem and trim off the very bottom.

You can either rub the artichokes with your piece of lemon, or you can place them as you go in a bowl of water with the lemon pieceartichoke hearts and some lemon juice.

Once your artichokes are all broken down, you can go ahead and trim any excess off the top before slicing into quarters or even eighths. In a pot over medium heat, combine sliced artichoke, vinegar, lemon piece, a few sprigs of thyme, peppercorns, pinch of salt and enough olive oil to just cover the artichokes.

how to break down an artichoke

Cover with a lid so that the oil will not splatter and give you a nasty burn. (I’m telling you, you just can’t trust these artichokes! Give them time with the other ingredients and they’ll turn them against you.) Cook for 10-15 minutes until artichokes are tender.

Let them come to room temperature and transfer to a glass jar. Add your sliced jalapeño. I did not cook the jalapeño with the artichokes, because the heat would have overpowered the flavor of the artichokes. (I mean, I wanted to break these artichokes in, but I have principles.) Marinating them with raw jalapeño, on the other hand, imparts a subtle heat that lingers but doesn’t hit you over the head.

Oh! And the great thing about marinating them in oil (as opposed to a vinegar/water mixture) is that you can use the oil in your cooking, so nothing goes to waste. And the flavor it imparts is fantastic!

spicy marinated artichokes

So it took a big move to a foreign country to finally, finally get the better of these little beasts. And I have to say, in the process of gaining mastery over these artichokes, I like to think we’ve found peace with one another in a respectful, albeit cautious, coexistence.

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17 Responses to make your own: marinated artichokes

  1. Holy Yum! Love those little slices of pepper peeping out.

  2. Hi there! Thanks for the comment on the oven dried tomatoes – seems we might have similar tastes! I love, love, LOVE artichoke hearts, but am too afraid of them to ever deal with a fresh artichoke. Maybe I will try it. . . . For how long can you store these once they are “bottled”?

  3. kale says:

    Sommer – I second your yum! The pepper gives a great extra little kick.

    Sara – Thanks for the reassurance, it’s good to know I’m not the only one scared of these things! Trust me, you can take them on! I did a little research (since this was my first time marinating my own) and it seems like we’ll be good for up to a month. I think the key is making sure they are always covered with oil, so that they will not dry out. Honestly I don’t think I’ll make it to a month; I keep munching on them!

  4. I am such an artichoke freak. I liked them before I moved to Cali, when they only came in cans pre-marinated, but now, I’ve cut them right out of the field and they’re delicious! I steam them whole and dip them leaf by leaf (scrape the meat off with your teeth) into a mustard butter sauce with a splash of white wine. It’s my own personal heaven, truly.

  5. As long as I’ve cooked and as adventurous as I like to think I am, I’m still afraid of artichokes — and yeast. Maybe I’ll make conquering them a New Year resolution. You’ve inspired me!

  6. Artichokes scare me too. I just wouldn’t know what to do with them!

    I’m glad you overcame your fear of them though- the jar of marinated artichoke and feta looks incredible!- and showed them who’s boss!

  7. Lemon says:

    What a great recipe idea, this looks very delicious. I am sure the artichokes and the lemon harmonize very well.

  8. kyleen says:

    I love eating artichokes, but that’s only when I’m forking them out of a jar. I’ve never tried marinating my own artichokes, but you make it seem so easy. This is definitely on my to-do list!

  9. You’re braver than I am when it comes to tackling new vegetables! I just buy the canned artichokes when I need them. Perhaps it’s time to branch out….

  10. kale says:

    Sprigs of Rosemary – Ooh, yeah, yeast. Anything that calls for being “activated” merits some healthy fear, no?

    kyleen – I don’t knock forking anything out of a jar! 😉

    Maggie @ A Bitchin’ Kitchen – Oh no, I’m not that brave. I cowered for a long time before getting fed up with myself and just going for it. It was a fun project though, and easier than I thought it’d be!

  11. Amy says:

    I made these and they are amazing! The pepper gave them fabulous pop! Thank you for sharing your recipe. 🙂

  12. Svalina says:

    Thats for the help – I too did not know what to do. Followed your recipe- except what do you do with them once they are in the jars. I put them in the fridge and the oil duh obviously solidified! Help.

    • kale says:

      hmm… i am surprised that it would be completely solid, given the amount of vinegar mixed in there, but mine certainly becomes thick with the cold, much the way good quality store-bought sun-dried tomatoes do, for instance. but i wouldn’t worry about it, nothing’s wrong with the oil, it’s just reacting to the cold. leave it out and let it come to room temperature and it’ll go back to a liquid state. 🙂
      hope that helps. and thanks for your comment/question, Svalina!

  13. Betsie says:

    Help! I’m working on this recipe right now and I’m stuck on what to do with the “hairy” inner part by the heart. When you steam an artichoke, you remove that part before eating the heart, but you haven’t mentioned removing, so I’m not sure what to do with it. I can’t tell from your pictures if you left it or took it out. Praying for a quick reply on this!

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