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Healthy Eating, Sides, Vegetarian

Artichokes braised with fennel, leeks and peas

Artichokes braised with fennel, leeks and peas
Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Sometimes an image, even one glimpsed very briefly, lodges itself in the mind and rests there for years before being recollected. Such an image for me was an artichoke seller I glimpsed in passing on the outskirts of Palermo. He ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour 50 minutes | Serves 4 to 6
  • 4 large artichokes
  • Water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup diced shallots
  • 2 leeks, white parts plus an inch of pale green parts, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 fennel bulbs, cut into 1-inch wedges, joined at root end
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups vegetable broth, chicken broth or water
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 6 small boiling potatoes, scrubbed and cut into quarters, or fingerings scrubbed and halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup peas or shelled fava beans
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fennel greens and/or parsley

Step 1Trim artichokes according to preparation instructions and cut them into sixths. Remove chokes with paring knife. Set artichokes in bowl with enough water to cover and lemon juice.

Step 2Melt butter in wide soup pot over medium-high heat. Add shallots and leeks and cook, stirring frequently, without browning, 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine, raise heat and simmer 2 minutes.

Step 3Drain artichokes and add them to pot along with fennel and broth. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste, then press a piece of crumbled parchment or wax paper directly over vegetables. Bring to boil, then simmer, covered, until artichokes are tender, about 35 minutes.

Step 4Meanwhile steam potatoes until tender, 12 to 15 minutes.

Step 5When artichokes and fennel are tender, remove them with slotted spoon to dish. Whisk creme frai^che and mustard into broth and boil briskly to make a thin sauce, 5 to 10 minutes. Add peas, cook over medium heat until tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then return vegetables and potatoes to pot. Add fennel greens and serve.


As the season progresses, take advantage of small market carrots, the last asparagus, the first zucchini or tender new turnips. For the fall artichoke crop, include diced celery root with the artichokes. Cool-weather sorrel, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup per recipe) simmered with the cream and then pureed, adds a bright, lemony bit to the dish.

Note: A bit more of an effort than the artichoke saute, this would be a dish for a spring supper, and it can easily be a vegetarian main dish. I often serve it with steamed spinach, and if fresh fava beans are available, I'll include some of them too. Serve toasted country bread rubbed lightly with garlic in each bowl. I like to use new red potatoes for this recipe.


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