Sunday, April 27

Baby Artichoke and Asparagus Risotto

raw baby artichokes

I've always been a big Globe artichoke kind of girl. That was until a couple of years ago when I tried baby artichokes. Now, I have learned to divide my love between them both.

Baby artichokes are fully mature artichokes, as their rich, earthy flavor attests to, but they're picked from the lower part of the plant, where they simply don't develop as much. As a result, the artichoke's characteristic fuzzy choke isn't all that fuzzy and can be eaten. In fact, other than a few tough outer loves, the entire artichoke is edible. So baby artichokes have all the flavor of their larger counterparts but without all the work. That's why they're ideal for a mid-week meal.

Select baby artichokes that are heavy for their size and have tight, firm, green or purple tinged leaves. White or brown streaks indicate frost bite or wind-burn; they are still edible, just unattractive. Do not, however, buy them if they're spongy or appear overly dry, brittle, or pitted. Baby artichokes can be refrigerated for up to 4-5 days, though the sooner you use them the better they'll taste.

cleaning baby artichokes

Compared to large Globe artichokes, baby artichokes are a breeze to clean. Just cut off the pointy top and the stem. Remove any tough or damaged outer leaves. Cut each artichoke in half or in quarters, and submerge in a bowl of water with lemon juice (this keeps them from oxidizing, or turning brown).

Baby artichokes can be boiled, steamed, braised, roasted, and even grilled. It's a good idea to par-boil them for 2-3 minutes before roasting or grilling which helps them retain more moisture.

Baby artichokes are delicious in everything from antipasto and salads to pastas and pizzas. They seem divined, however, for creamy risotto. This risotto celebrates the flavors of spring with nutty baby artichokes, tender asparagus, and fragrant fresh mint. It is an intoxicating combination of flavors and textures.

I have made it twice already, and now that I'm posting this, Jeff just asked, "Hey, when are you gonna make that risotto again?" Addictive, I tell you. That's why I'm sending it to Anh of the beautiful Food Lover's Journey, this week's host of Weekend Herb Blogging, created by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen.

baby artichoke and asparagus risotto

Baby Artichoke and Asparagus Risotto

Makes 2 main or 4 side servings.
Print recipe only here.

1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large shallot, diced (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup uncooked Arborio rice
2 1/2 cups low-sodium broth, or as much as needed
1/4 cup dry white wine

8 asparagus stalks, cut into 1-inch slices
4 baby artichokes, trimmed and quartered
the juice of 1 lemon (for lemon water)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
7-8 cranks of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
5-6 mint leaves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter, optional

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, add 5 cups of vegetable broth. Heat through for about 10 minutes, then lower to a simmer while cooking the risotto.

Meanwhile, fill a medium sized deep pot with water and the juice of 1 lemon (which prevents the artichokes from oxidizing, or turning brown) and bring to a boil. Trim the thick bottoms of the asparagus, and cut into 1-inch slices. Remove any tough or damaged outer leaves of the artichokes; trim off the tops and the stems, and cut into quarters. Place in a bowl of lemon water (which keeps them from oxidizing, or turning brown). Boil in lemon water for 3 minutes, then add the asparagus, and cook 3 minutes more, or until vegetables are just tender. Drain, and plunge in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

For the risotto, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced shallots and saute 3-5 minutes, or until tender. Add the Arborio rice; toast for about 1 minute. Cook the risotto at a slow simmer, adding heated broth ½ cupful at a time. Most cookbooks will tell to stir continuously; I don’t, and you don't have to either. You can stir occasionally; just make sure the risotto absorbs the liquid before adding more. It will become tender and creamy as it cooks. Season with some salt about halfway through so it blends well, and add the white wine. 5 cups of broth usually works for this recipe, but use more or less as needed. It takes about 20 minutes for the risotto to become completely cooked. Taste it -- it should be wonderfully creamy and thick. It’s best al dente, which means it should still retain some firmness when you chew it.

After about 10 minutes of cooking the risotto, place a large skillet over medium heat. Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil, then add mushrooms. Saute 5 minutes, or until golden brown; add the drained artichokes and asparagus; cook another 3-5 minutes until vegetables are tender but not mushy. Season with salt and black pepper.

At this point, the risotto should be cooked. Add the sautéed vegetables and stir. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and mint; stir until well combined and heated, about 1 minute. Turn off heat; then add the Parmesan cheese so it will melt more slowly. Add some additional salt and pepper, to taste. Adding 1 tablespoon of butter at this point adds a touch more creaminess, but it's optional.

Plate your risotto, topping it with extra mint leaves and grated Parmesan cheese. Drizzle it with extra virgin olive oil for an extra Mmmmmm and serve immediately.

You might also like these spring time dishes:
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Anonymous said...

This looks incredibly tasty! I love the photo of the baby artichokes :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

This would be a luxurious risotto here, where both baby artichokes and Meyer lemons are very expensive. But if I close my eyes, I can imagine the taste of this -- so delicious!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Truly a risotto after my heart. Beautiful photos of the babies!

Proud Italian Cook said...

I can see why Jeff's addicted to this! I would be too! Anything with baby artichokes is near and dear to my heart!!This risotto looks soooo good! I need to find some meyer lemons here!

Emily said...

Mama Mia! That looks good. Reminds me of Italy.

The artichokes are beautiful. I would decorate my house in those colors.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I love these fresh Spring risottos. I will have to keep an eye out for baby artichokes:D

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Delicious and wonderfully presented! A tasty risotto!



Manggy said...

Asparagus: delicious, nutritious
Artichokes: delicious, nutritious
Your risotto: gorgeous, need it now

I can't believe so many people think it's so hard to eat healthily!!! I'd have this every day if I could :)

Unknown said...

havent tried doing risotto myself...this sounds yummy yet healthy...lemme tweak this into an automatically unhealthy version soon (aiyo sorryyyy)

Peter M said...

How simple is that and with artichokes and asparagus shining as the main ingredients? Also, no one can call you a "size queen" with artichokes! ;)

Nic said...

Those baby artichokes look wonderful, and that risotto even more so. Full of flavours.

Núria said...

Aaaawwwhhh, too bad I can't see the final picture! Don't know why it doesn't show in my computer :(

I LOVE Rice and LOVE Artichokes... couldn't find a better dish for me!!! Thanks for sharing Susan!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow... what a beautiful dish!

RecipeGirl said...

Cute little purple things, aren't they? I've never put artichokes in risotto. Good idea. Looks like they cook up pretty quickly for this dish. I'll have to check them out sometime.

bazu said...

I'm awaiting artichoke season with bated breath- your recipe sounds gorgeous!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Your risotto looks heavenly! I think I'll need to pick up baby artichokes next time I'm at the store.

Katy said...

Oh my goodness, those are so lovely! both your ristotto and the pictures of the artichokes! can you believe it's finally spring?? seems like winter lasted forever this year!

Suganya said...

Never heard of baby artichokes. They are tiny and cute. Where did you get them? I will look for it at Whole Foods.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Susan, the baby artichokes look so cute!
And the risotto is making me hungry - at 4:30pm, if you'll believe me. ;)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

kristen-Thanks so much!

lydia-They're worth the extra expense. I promise.

tanna-Aw, thanks.

marie-They add sweetness along with the acidity. Hope you find them.

emiline-And I'm thinking of new colors for my bedroom. ;)

bellini-Hope you find them soon!

rosa-Many thanks!

manggy-:) You're right, healthy food can be delicious.

rita-Oh, please give it a try. You'll be glad you did.

peter-whew! I was afraid people were saying that about me behind my back. ;)

nic-Little veg, big flavor. :)

nuria-Then you'll have to come over, or at least check out my flickr account--it's there.

ann-Thank you!

lore-They do cook quickly which is why I like them for mid-week meals.

bazu-They're worth the wait.

lynn-You sure do!

katy-I'm pretty spoiled by the weather, so I think I'll plead the 5th on that one. ;)

suganya-Trader Joe's sells them as do major chain supermarkets such as Albertsons, Vons, and Ralphs. I'm sure, therefore, that Whole Foods would have them too.

patricia-Yes I can believe it (she writes as her stomach growls.) ;)

Annie said...

Looks delicious as usual! I love the idea of using mint. I have wanted to try using it in something savory but I have yet to do it.
You're a great inspiration, Susan!

sarahsouth said...

how springy! more inspiration... thanks

Heather said...

These pictures are beautiful! I have never gotten myself around to making risotto with artichokes, but I must try it! I make a really tasty limoncello cream sauce with artichokes and chicken, though, which is super good :) Artichokes are awesome!

Anonymous said...

i never cook with artichokes because i've always thought they were more trouble than they're worth, but baby artichokes could change my mind - especially because i love everything else in this dish.

risotto = love.

Anonymous said...

a lovely risotto susan..these artichokes are wonderful(in taste as well as preparation!)Love your pic!

Unknown said...

That risotto looks and sounds really good.

LyB said...

I love asparagus risotto! I wouldn't have thought of pairing them with artichokes, it sounds delicious!

Rachel said...

This sounds amazing! The baby artichokes are so beautiful - I love their color :)

Anonymous said...

Susan!!! Honestly, I wish you would compile ALL of your recipes into a bound book. I love your photos, your stories, your choice of produce AND your recipes. Every post is a winner! Once again, I'm writing my grocery list based on one of your recipes. I can't wait to try this one!

xoxox Amy

brandin + kari said...

I just saw these today at Whole Foods. At first, I did not think I would be able to find them. I am going to make this tomorrow!!! I am so excited. I am going to even try it with mushrooms, even though my husband and I are not big fans. I think any mushroom covered in cheese and rice can always convince me.

Elle said...

This dish is like the essence of spring!

Anonymous said...

that looks so delicious, the combination and artichoke and asparagus risotto sounds and looks beautiful. i need to find me some of those.... mmmm

Anonymous said...

This is a great post. I love small, purple artichokes. I remember eating them raw -- thin shavings from the bottom that were tossed with olive oil and parmigiano. Delish.

By the way, did you know that Vietnamese like to drink artichoke tea? It's one of the most popular drinks from Da Lat.All you need to do is boil the artichokes until they are totally cooked through and add rock sugar. It may sound a little strange, but it's quite good.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

annie-Oh, mint is wonderful in salads, salsas, and on seafood too.

sarahsouth-Happy to hear it!

heather-Oh, your limoncello cream sauce sounds fabulous! I've gotta check it out.

michelle-They're easy-peasy. :)

ronell-Many thanks!


lyb-They are naturals together.

rachel-Thanks a bunch!

amy-You're are too kind. Thanks for brightening my day. :)

anticiplate-You could always skip the mushrooms, but they do add a chewy texture that I love. I hope you both like it!

elle-That's just what I love to hear!

aria-Try the Santa Monica fm. They always had the best ones.

christine-I've never tried them raw before or in tea. Thanks so much for introducing these delicious ideas to me.

daphne said...

Very spring! =) The colours look amazing in this.

Jeanne said...

Oh WOW! How cute are those little guys? I don't even think I've ever seen a baby artichoke, much less tasted one. The risotto looks fantastic - a little breath of Spring :)

K Allrich said...

I've had a hankering for risotto this week. This looks lovely!

Julie said...

I think those are the most pristine artichokes I've ever seen! You california girls with your produce make me jealous:)

Deborah Dowd said...

I wish I could find some gorgeous baby artichokes like that - what delicious-looking spring dish!

Katie Zeller said...

Anything (and everything) in risotto.
I must admit everytime I think about buying the little ones my had just moves towards the monsters... Next time I will get small... think small...
They look wonderful and I always like easy..

Pixie said...

Beautiful risotto- adore artichokes; I'm going to star this and have a proper read through it now. Looks great!

Kalyn Denny said...

Love the little artichokes. I think I've only had big ones. This sounds really delicious, great combination of flavors.

tigerfish said...

Such a beautiful risotto dish! Love it!

Anonymous said...

Haven't really tried artichokes yet. (Gasp!!! Is this girl from outer space?!) That's because it is not readily available here in my part of the tropics. And I do not know how to cook them... until now. Well, I better get going to the specialty grocery and start artichoke hunting...

Thanks for a delicious-looking recipe! I'm sure it will taste wonderful!

Jaime said...

yum! i love how you can add anything to risotto :)

A-Mao said...

Great Blog ~