Bold, bright and astonishingly striking blooms. Taller than I was and radiant with life. When the fog began to roll over the ocean and the days possessed a crispness about them, the artichokes would begin to blossom. The wild looking globe with thorns ready to protect its innate beauty will forever capture my heart and soul. The magic of these thistles is the way they are gently coaxed into divine softness with a bit of a hot bath immersed in herbs and slices of tangy lemon. Their hardened exteriors melt to reveal tender, luscious leaves begging to be treasured and devoured.
As a young girl with a mind that never stopped in the quest for more knowledge, more adventure, more imagination and more love, the artichoke plant spoke to a part of me I was not acquainted with. The folklore and history of them made the stories trapped inside me force themselves out on pen and paper. Artichokes are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables and one steeped in legend. They are said to have grown first in the warm climates of North Africa and then the seeds found themselves in the Mediterranean, namely Sicily. The French were said to have traveled with the seeds to New Orleans where they began cultivation in the USA. And everywhere carries a story. One of the most known is the one of Cinara. An ethereal beauty of epic proportion and one who was turned into an artichoke bloom by the jealous wife of her lover. This one resonated within me, every time I went to harvest our strange winter artichokes I always imagined the most stunning woman in front of me. Luminescent hair the color of dusk, faded green eyes that changed depending on the light and the softest skin hidden under a barrier of thorns. I found power in this. As a girl who was not yet comfortable in her own skin, in the middle of the coldest season being with the artichokes always sparked flames of warmth and intrigue.
There is a bit of magic to this story, in the climate of California globe artichokes can grow year round. But their peak season has always been March- May with another hurrah in October. And yet ever year like clockwork the early days of January would always be met with artichokes for days. So many we would set baskets outside our driveway with a sign to enjoy. It’s a strange time for them to bloom, and especially with such fervor. I always imagined a pixie flitting about the garden wanting to spread sunshine and to remind us of the immense splendor of the season. Winter is a time of rest, reflection and grand transition. So often we beg of it to end, we scream at the skies to bring spring. I have only ever known a mild winter, I feel as though any other place I may join in the chorus for the frost to melt and for the sun to shine again. But then I would hope a sweet reminder would present itself. It is in the harshest seasons of our life that we find the gravity of our own strength. It is the days of rest that we discover the magnitude of our own imaginations. It is a time to nourish the soil of our bodies and our souls. To fill them to the brim with radiant nutrition and astounding love. Here is to beginning the year with memories of yesterday but a grounded foot in the present. May your days be sprinkled with magic and laughter and may your body know only an abundance of health.
The Goods ::
4-5 Globe Artichokes
2 Lemons Zested and Sliced thinly
One bunch of thyme
One bunch of Italian parsley
10 leaves of Basil
Pinch of salt
Drizzle of Olive Oil
Lemon Cashew Mayo
1/4 cup (60ml) filtered water
1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup (140g) raw unsalted cashews, soaked for 2 hours
1/4 cup (30g) raw cauliflower florets
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 1/4 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
3 teaspoons capers and more for garnish
1 teaspoon Maple Syrup
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Pink Salt
Get Cooking ::
Wash and trim your artichokes. You want to ensure that all the sharp thorns are cut off and everything is washed thoroughly. Prepare the bath by filling a large pot with water. Add your herbs, lemon slices, salt and a touch of olive oil and bring the water to a boil. Add your artichokes and boil for 5 minutes and then reduce to a simmer and cover for 45-50 minutes until cooked through. If you have huge artichokes this time can nearly double. You want them to be a dark green, the aromas from the water will be fragrant and the petals will look like they are slightly blooming. While they cook prepare your Cashew Mayo.
Drain the soaked cashews, and discard the soaking liquid. Put all the ingredients into your blender, and place on high for 30 to 60 seconds, until smooth and creamy. Top with capers and more lemon juice for dipping the artichoke leaves in!
When your artichoke are done, strain them. Plate them with a drizzle of Olive oil and Balsamic Vinegar. A sprinkle of salt + pepper. Dip in the cashew mayo and wait to be transported to bliss! Happy Winter beauties.