All Choked Up
We know spring has sprung when we see the first tender baby California artichokes on farmers' tables at the Little Italy Mercato. Look for them this Saturday at Suncoast and Maciel Farms; the smallest artichokes require just a bit of trimming to enjoy them whole. If you haven't cooked them before, look here for easy instructions. They make a wonderful spring salad when mixed with fresh peas, carrots, spring onions and crisp lettuces from your favorite farmers. Artichokes are an awesome addition to fresh pasta from Lisko, or imported Italian noodles from Italianissimo; they're also great in a frittata or a vegetable casserole.
Larger artichokes are best when steamed or roasted, then dipped into your favorite sauce. Make a classic aioli with garlic from your favorite farmer and one of the Mercato's many fine olive oils at Falcone, Italianissimo or Thyme of Essence. Add fresh eggs from Schaener Farms or Swiss Mountain to make a homemade mayonnaise dip; spruce it up with fresh herbs or blend it with pesto from Basiltops. See Poppa's Fresh Fish if a seafood stuffed artichoke is your style; they'll be happy to recommend the perfect combination. Squeeze a fresh lemon over it and enjoy a taste of classic California spring eating!