Artichokes: Procured from the supermarket, most likely hailing from California. (Cynara cardunculus, in the thistle family)
Kohlrabi: Procured from the New Milford Farmer’s Market. (Brassica oleracea Gongylodes group)
(Note: The charcoal grill on which these kohlrabi lay was used for photography, not cooking, purposes. My camera is currently having issues with taking indoor shots using the fill flash. So I look for outdoor backdrops if photographing dark-colored objects. Yes, I should have a professional studio setup for photos, but I don’t…)
Kohlrabi was one of the more unique discoveries of last year’s Farmer’s Market. Those purple stalks growing out ever which way, snaking upwards like a space alien life form, up into collard-like greenery, what’s not to like? And yes, it’s a cruciferous vegetable, like collards, kale, cabbage, broccoli, mustards, Swiss chard, and so many others. There are also green variants, just as with cabbage.
Artichokes (some people will cut off the tops with the pricklies before cooking, especially if young children will be eating — but my parents never did, and so I haven’t, either. Decide based on your preference.)
Kohlrabi, remove leaves and reserve for another recipe with a short cooking time
Scallion or young garlic
Ground white or black pepper
Simmer about 50-55 minutes (this will depend on artichoke size – baby artichokes about 30 min, huge monstrosities about an hour and 20 minutes). The kohlrabi in this case went along for the ride, but I wouldn’t cook them over the 55 minutes.
Remove from heat, allow to cool just enough to handle.
Break off kohlrabi stalks, slice kohlrabi in half. Unfortunately, they lose much of that vibrant color. Dust with pepper and nutmeg.
Slice artichokes in half, with knife remove feathering, and insert chopped pimento in the cavity.
Arrange on plate, sprinkling on the scallion or young garlic, chopped.
The art of eating artichokes:
Pull off a leaf, place the base up side down in your mouth, close your teeth over it, and pull, sucking in the flesh away from the outer texturally-inedible scaffold of the leaf. You’ll get the hang of it.
Next, a digression. Growing up, we ate them after simmering as long as they needed to get done, dipping each individual base of leaf into Catalina ™ salad dressing. That’s the only way we ever ate them. They were awesome, and the dressing, tart and tangy, completed the dish. And out on my own as an adult, I ate them that way, sometimes eating two large ones, or three medium-sized artichokes, dipping into Catalina. That would be all I’d eat for dinner; nothing else. Choke heaven, as it were.
No longer. Somewhere over the past ten or fifteen or maybe more years, they changed the recipe for that salad dressing. Added more sweeteners. Probably trapped in high fructose corn syrup for that matter. Extenders. In the early years after the transformation to the worse, I tried to adapt the Catalina by mixing it with less-sweet dressings. This didn’t really work successfully, but I did it, anyway.
Artichokes with the original Catalina dressing is oft-remembered comfort food. It’s never to re-appear, and in the past couple years with my interest in real foods, I’ve acknowledged this. (And even in its original incarnation, I doubt it was “real” then, anyhow.)
Thus, I’m working on re-inventing artichokes. Thus, this meal, splitting them in half, removing the itchy feathers, and adding in pimentos, and using a little lemon to provide some of that remembered tartness. And eating alongside kohlrabi, a vegetable truly new to me. Trying to remake a dish on new terms, so I can enjoy it rapturously again! Perhaps I can design a new comfort food, based around an old major ingredient.
A success? It’s a decent recipe, and I like it. If you don’t have your heart set on childhood favorite memories, it may even be more than that. But. I need to play further. I love artichokes. I do.