Pan-Fried Artichokes with Crispy Sage and Garlic

Peak season for artichokes is March through May and the markets are still full of plump globes. So I am making this recipe often to serve as an hors d’oeuvres with drinks before dinner parties, and the occasional panful for my supper. It chases after the flavors of fried artichokes I’ve had in Italy, but without deep-frying.

Maria Robledo

Maria Robledo

I use the technique of braise-sauteing I developed years ago for A New Way to Cook: I braise the artichokes in a simple sage-and-garlic-flavored olive oil and a little water to tenderize them. Once all the liquid has evaporated, I saute the artichokes in the remaining aromatic oil until a caramelized crust builds up on them, giving them a flavor of fried artichokes.  I use the crispy garlic and sage — bi-products from making the oil —as a delicious garnish. The whole recipe uses a single pan.

Maria Robledo

Maria Robledo

Don’t be daunted by the instructions for paring and slicing artichokes.  It is really very easy. Once you get the hang of it, the whole dish takes less than 20 minutes to prepare. You are basically stripping the artichokes down to their most tender and delicious part: the heart. Rather than discard the pulled-off leaves, I steam the pulled-off leaves to dip in melted butter and nibble the tender flesh as a snack.

Maria Robledo

Maria Robledo

Pan-Fried Artichokes with Crispy Garlic and Sage

If you wish prepare most of the dish done in advance, up to 6 hours ahead, braise the artichokes until they are tender and all the liquid has evaporated, but do not fry them.  Set them aside until you’re ready to use them. About 5 minutes before serving, pan-fry the artichokes as directed below.  Garnish with Crispy Sage and Garlic.

4 Servings

1 lemon, cut in half

4 medium-large globe artichokes

2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

10 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

15 fresh sage leaves

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

To prepare the artichokes: Squeeze a lemon into a medium bowl and fill with cold water. As you prepare the artichokes, add the slices to this bath to keep them from turning brown. Trim 1/2″ off the stem ends of the artichokes and and pull off the green outer leaves from the base until only pale yellow ones are exposed. (Discard the green leaves or steam them to eat with a vinaigrette). With a thin, sharp knife, halve the artichokes crosswies; discard the leafy tops. With a paring knife, pare away the tough skin or fibrous outer skin. Quarter the artichoke bottoms lengthwise. Cut out and discard the furry chokes. Slice artichoke quarter in half again.

In a large nonstick skillet, combine the oil and the garlic. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the garlic is barely golden, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook until the garlic is crisp, about 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to a small bowl. Add the sage leaves to the skillet and cook, turning once, until the leaves are darkened, fragrant, and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sage leaves to the garlic. Spoon 1 teaspoon of the sage oil into a small bowl and reserve.

Drain the artichokes well and add them to the skillet along with the water and the salt; toss to coat and cover the pan. Cook over moderately high heat until the water has evaporated and the artichokes are tender but not mushy, about 12 minutes. If water is evaporating too quickly, add 2 or 3 more tablespoons more to the pan.

Uncover and increase the heat to high. Cook to evaporate any liquid in the pan then add the reserved sage oil. Saute the artichokes, tossing frequently, until they are slightly caramelized and browned, about 5 minutes.) Grind over fresh pepper to taste. Serve at once or at room temperature. Scatter the garlic and sage over the top as a garnish.

2 Responses to Pan-Fried Artichokes with Crispy Sage and Garlic

  1. Tim 05.17.2014 at 11:24am #

    Sally, these are incredibly delicious! I’ve cheated and used Trader Joe’s frozen artichoke hearts, a far cry from fresh but still very good. Served over polenta (your recipe for cooking it in the oven is genius), they make for a fabulous, simple, satisfying dish.

  2. Sally 05.21.2014 at 8:37pm #

    Hurray! There’s nothing I like better than hearing that a recipe was a smash hit (well maybe a few things). Thanks for letting me know of your cheat.
    And thanks for reminding me: I’ve been meaning to try cooking Anson Mills grits using that oven polenta method.

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