For my spring vegetable dishes I chose to use Asparagus and Artichokes, both of which are in plentiful supply. I turned to Alice Water's Chez Panisse Vegetables for my Artichoke recipe.
Artichokes Baked with Anchovy Stuffing
4 large artichokes
Juice of 1/2 lemon
6 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 sprigs thyme
1/4 to 1/2 cup white wine
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup pitted niçoise olives
Zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 salt-packed anchovies
1-1/3 cups toasted bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
Splash of white wine
Extra-virgin olive oil
A few sprigs thyme
Pare the artichokes down to their hearts and scoop out the chokes with a spoon. Drop the hearts into water acidulated with lemon juice (or rub them with a little olive oil) to prevent them from discoloring. Set aside.
Peel the onions and garlic and slice very thin. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, add the onions, garlic, and sprigs of thyme, and cook slowly for 10 minutes, until the onions have softened. Add about 1/4 cup of the white wine and cook 2 minutes more. Season to taste. Reserve about 1/4 cup of this onion mixture and set aside. Spread the rest of the onion mixture in a small, nonreactive baking dish large enough to hold the artichokes. Scatter the olives over the onions. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
To make the stuffing, grate the zest from the lemon; chop the parsley; and rinse, fillet, and chop the anchovies. Mix together with the reserved onion mixture and the bread crumbs.
Stuff each artichoke with one quarter of this mixture and place the artichokes stuffed side down on the bed of onions and olives in the baking dish. Season generously with salt and pepper. Splash a little white wine over them and drizzle with olive oil and a few drops of balsamic vinegar. Strew with a few sprigs of thyme, cover the artichokes with parchment paper, and cover the baking dish tightly with foil. Bake for 60 to 90 minutes, until the artichokes can be easily pierced with a knife.
Serves 4. I added a little pancetta to the top but frankly this recipe did not make me want to repeat this effort. The stuffing seemed uninspiring and the artichoke itself was bland.The Asparagus, on the other hand, was much more successful. This month's Cook's Country, sister magazine to Cook's Illustrated, has a recipe for Broiled Asparagus with Mustard Vinaigrette that I highly recommend. Nothing could be easier than broiling asparagus.The last component to my Sunday dinner was Ina Garten's Roasted Shrimp Salad. Ina is one of the few chefs on the Food Network I enjoy and it's recipes like this make me want to tune into her show. The freshness of the orange zest really pops with the roasted shrimp. Pairing the zesty asparagus with the creaminess of the shrimp salad was a nice contrast. Two winners out of three's not bad.