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Moving Forward: Pan Fried Baby Artichokes with Mint and Lemon

The sun colors the sky all shades of pink and purple at this time of year. It’s my favorite time to drive home from work because I often watch the sun set over the trees and the mountains. The stream of red taillights winding up in front of me becomes a part of the painting ahead. It’s a good time to write, so to speak. I write often on the road. And by write, I mean record my thoughts. Meaning, talking to myself, alone in my car. Usually, my recording sessions don’t last for more than five minutes. Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m on the move.

I was running on the treadmill at the gym when the idea of doing ‘Musical Pairings’ came to me. I’ve written many posts on trains and planes. I’ve even composed my thoughts in the middle of yoga classes, when you’re supposed to do anything but think. I think, if I should ever write a book, I will just fly from place to place and ride the train back and forth, just so the ideas keep coming.

As a city dweller, I tend to walk a lot. I walk to run small errands around the corner. I walk to and from my car, which is usually parked several blocks away from my house. I walk to my friends’ houses. And I walk just to walk. It’s one of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday, in fact. My friend Megan recently wrote about her move to Seattle, and the adjustment that comes with learning a new place’s routines. One of the things she’s noticed about Seattle is how people get together not for dinner or a cup of coffee, but for a walk. I love this. Sure, it’s nice to sit still, and focus on a conversation, with a meal or a drink in front of you and the ability to fold your hands on a table, or lean in really close. But walking side by side with someone, in my opinion, generates even better conversation. When you’re moving forward, so are your ideas and thoughts. I have a little proposal for you: the next time you make plans to have dinner with someone, or coffee, or lunch, or brunch, suggest taking a walk afterwards. Or, walk to your destination.

Just as we move forward, so do our seasons. At this time of year, I anxiously await my favorite Spring jewels: peas, asparagus, strawberries, and artichokes. Yes, those big, spiky globes whose tiny ‘hearts’ are the sought-after delicacies we work hard to get to. California, and Monterey County, nearby our city of San Francisco, is especially famous for them in the United States. The little baby ones, though not as impressive looking as their larger kin, are nevertheless tasty, and perfectly amenable to a good skillet and a little oil. For years, I underutilized one of my now-favorite herbs: mint. It adds a freshness that I like to compare to Spring. In this little appetizer or side dish, we pan fry the littlest artichokes (see tips for trimming them, below), along with some mint, Meyer lemon zest (regular lemon zest is fine, too), and some anchovies. The anchovies hardly come into play, flavor-wise, but rather, create a good foundation for the fry.

Pan Fried Baby Artichokes with Mint and Lemon
*serves 2-4 as an appetizer

1 dozen baby artichokes, trimmed and sliced in half, length-wise (see these tips for trimming baby artichokes in Saveur Magazine)
zest from 1/2 Meyer lemon
3-4 anchovy fillets
salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon of finely chopped mint, plus more for garnish
olive oil
juice from 1/2 lemon

1. As you clean and trim the artichokes, drop them into a bowl of cold water, with the juice of half of a lemon. Once you are done, drain the bowl and toss the artichokes with the zest, mint, salt, pepper, and about 1/4 cup of olive oil.
2. Heat three tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the anchovy fillets until they break down. Next, add the artichokes, cut side down.
3. Lower the heat to medium and don’t move the artichokes for about five minutes. Flip one to see if it’s begun to brown (but not blacken). If it has, start flipping the others and let them cook on the other side for another 4-5 minutes. Continue cooking (flipping) until the artichokes are golden on both sides and feel tender when pierced with a fork.

Musical Pairings: Tennis – Young & Old + Pan Fried Baby Artichokes with Mint and Lemon

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Posted by Kasey

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Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • naturallyella

    I start my morning out with a walk and it’s always when I come up with my best plans! I wished I lived in a more urban area so that I could walk everywhere.
    These baby artichokes look amazing (and I too can’t wait for spring produce, although I think I still have a while!)

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    I love that you sart your morning with a walk! If I didn’t have to wake up so early to get to work, I probably would, too. I think that is one of the best things about living in a city – the ability to walk everywhere and constantly be inspired by your surroundings. That said, though, I often wish I could take a stroll through the woods, or do my writing in a little lake-side cabin…Hooray for the arrival of Spring!

  • http://www.dulanotes.com/ NicoleD

    I just spied some baby artichokes at the store this morning and realized I’d never had them. The recipe looks great and the link on how to trim them is really helpful. Your photos are gorgeous! I love, love long walks and I agree that they’re great for inspiration. I especially love walks in the spring or fall when there is a bit of a chill in the air and you can physically feel it as you breathe in the cool fresh air.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    The first time I tried cooking with baby artichokes, I didn’t trim them properly and I was so confused about why they weren’t tasty (I love globe artichokes!). Find that Saveur slideshow was a serious help. A little market by my work sells these packaged by the dozen, and I think once you get the hang of trimming, it actually goes pretty quickly. Fall walks are wonderful! I know exactly what you mean about breathing in that crisp, cool air, and feeling a little chill on your cheeks.

  • http://cookieandkate.com/ Kate

    What are the odds that we wrote about the same concept on the same day?! I can’t believe it! I’ve been thinking about walking (and walking while thinking) a lot lately and the salad I posted today seemed ripe for the discussion. Walking satisfies us all on such a primal level, I think, and new sights open us up to creative ideas. It’s really an overlooked form of exercise, too—a 30 minute walk a day can help prevent so many modern ailments. I keep thinking I should set a new rule in the morning: take the dog on a walk first, then breakfast, then open up the laptop. Maybe I can make that happen now that it’s not so cold outside. Maybe. I’ll never be a morning person. Anyway, I’ll stop jabbering, but not before I say that your artichoke recipe looks so simple and wonderful!

  • http://cookieandkate.com/ Kate

    What are the odds that we wrote about the same concept on the same day?! I can’t believe it! I’ve been thinking about walking (and walking while thinking) a lot lately and the salad I posted today seemed ripe for the discussion. Walking satisfies us all on such a primal level, I think, and new sights open us up to creative ideas. It’s really an overlooked form of exercise, too—a 30 minute walk a day can help prevent so many modern ailments. I keep thinking I should set a new rule in the morning: take the dog on a walk first, then breakfast, then open up the laptop. Maybe I can make that happen now that it’s not so cold outside. Maybe. I’ll never be a morning person. Anyway, I’ll stop jabbering, but not before I say that your artichoke recipe looks so simple and wonderful!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    I know! It’s so funny. I was reading your post and thinking about how I was sitting and pondering the same things the night before! I think walking is a great form of exercise, and it’s SO much better for your body than running! I like your idea of starting the day with a long walk! If I had a little more time in the a.m., I totally would, too.

  • http://www.yummysupper.blogspot.com/ erin @ yummy supper

    Kasey, Walking is so meditative for me too. I do often take walks with friends….you are so right about what all that movement does to ideas and conversations.
    I love your ode to spring. Tiny artichokes are some of the great delights of the season and I love your pairing with mint, lemon and anchovies. Yum!
    -Erin

  • http://www.loveandlemons.com/ Jeanine

    I walk for ideas too, I’m obsessed with walking :)

    I’ve never cleaned my own artichokes because I’ve been too lazy, but your photos make me want to give it a try. This looks delicious!

  • http://www.xobreakfast.com noelle

    Reading this brings a big smile to my face, having just walked home from lunch with friends. :D (like that) I’m going to take another walk later today in hopes of finding baby artichokes at the market — thx for the recipe!

  • Lori @ Lemons and Lavender

    I walk with my dog every morning after I get my kids to school. I need that alone time to process what’s moving through my head or to plan out my day. Putting one foot in front of the other really inspires me. I could explore for hours on foot if I had the time to do so. And I also record my thoughts in the car on my iPhone. It helps so much but my kids get annoyed when my ramblings don’t get deleted quickly enough and end up in their iTunes library.
    The combination of flavors from the anchovies, lemon and mint sound wonderful with the light char on the baby artichokes.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Hi Erin! I never think of walking as a meditative act, but you are so right! In so many ways, walking relieves tensions and stress the way no other activities really can.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Jeanine, after following the tips from Saveur, I feel like I have a rejuvenated desire to cook with artichokes. Once you get the technique down, I actually think it goes pretty quickly. Love hearing that you walk to catch your ideas, too.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    I love putting smiles on people’s faces!! Wish we could take a stroll for artchokes together…

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Lori, I love that you, too, record your thoughts while you’re driving. I actually use Evernote for recording my thoughts (full disclosure: I work for the company), but that way all of my crazy ramblings are mine and only mine :) I SO wish I had a dog to walk…if only I could convince my landlady!

  • Aims

    I’ve just moved to the Bay area and I am amazed by the beautiful hues of the sky and make a point of taking it in each day. Absolutely LOVE this recipe – I’ve moved from somewhere that doesn’t have artichokes so I’m stoked to have them in abundance :)

  • http://happyolks.com/ Kelsey

    Mmm. Love this. Walking and talking is the best. I agree, good ideas and good love is always on the move. Baby artichokes are an underrated joy, glad they’re in season now

  • http://www.de-ma-cuisine.com/ Rachel – De Ma Cuisine

    These sound delicious! I’ve never tried artichokes done this way. Will have to add this to my list of things to make. :)

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