I am taking a course through the Plant Sciences department on the basics of gardening, pruning, and propagation of plants. I definitely had a romanticized view of gardening before taking this class, because plants are work. In addition to lecture and 3 hours of lab a week, we are each supposed to maintain a 70 ft strip of land where we grow lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, and other summer crops. I have easily spent more time maintaining the weed situation in my garden than I have studying for my for-credit classes… but maybe that says more about my work ethic than this class. For the past few weeks, our professor has come into our labs with bins of artichokes grown around the property that we then get to take home. This direct access to locally grown plants is what I love this most about this class. It has spurred my love for cooking and has forced me to diversify my every day meals, one of which I am sharing here.
I watch so many cooking videos on YouTube and read so many recipes that I often forget which foods I have cooked in real life and which I only theoretically know how to cook. It is becoming a borderline scary blurring of virtual and real life. I didn’t realize until I brought the artichoke home that I had never actually cooked an artichoke, but somehow knew how to prep one. Again, scary.
Although the heart is the most tasty and substantial part of an artichoke, I felt like discarding all of its leaves would be a disgrace to this beautiful, gigantic flower. Steaming would be the next best alternative, but since I don’t own a steamer basket I boiled the artichoke instead. The premise of boiling an artichoke is very simple: cut off 0.5-1 inch of the artichoke head, trim the tips off any remaining leaves, and boil in salted, lemon water for ~40 minutes, depending on the size of your bulb. Once done, I drizzled it with some garlicky melted butter and it was ready to be eaten. I served it with some grilled chicken and forbidden black rice for pizzaz. I bought less than a cup of black rice at a grocery store bulk section 6 months back and only finished it in this recipe. Black rice tastes very similar to brown rice in its’ heartiness, but it takes forever to cook and stains everything it touches, so I don’t make it that often. However, I cant deny how cool it looks in contrast to the chicken and artichoke. Something about black rice makes a simple meal feel so much fancier, so it’s worth the effort on occasion. Top tip: cook your black rice in 1/2 chicken broth 1/2 water for some extra flavor. Especially if you are eating your rice plain, like I did here, a bit of broth or a bouillon cube makes all the difference.
So go out and get some artichokes!! They’re hard to work into a daily meal but they’re so beautiful they’re guaranteed to make you smile. Seriously who wouldn’t smile looking at this babe??