Artichokes Roasted In the Oven

We love artichokes, as a salad, stuffed, with pasta, always a treat. We saw young, small, purple artichokes on the market and decided to take a different approach. Let’s roast them in the oven with lots of fresh thyme, rosemary and bay leaf.
The bitter, nutty taste of the artichokes was clearly present, and it was delicious in combination with the mouthfeel (the olive oil) and the aromatic herbs. Compared to steamed artichokes the roasted ones come with stronger but not too strong flavours.

The artichokes were clearly young because there was no centre choke (the hairy part), which meant that we could eat most of the artichoke, including the stem.

Wine Pairing

Normally pairing artichokes and wine is a real challenge. According to various researchers this is due to cynarin, a chemical especially found in the leaves of the artichoke. When the wine and the cynarin meet in your mouth, the natural sweetness of the wine is enhanced, making it taste too sweet. Meaning you must pair artichokes with a bone-dry, crisp, unoaked white wine with clear, present acidity. Roasting the artichokes in the oven seems to reduce the impact of the cynarin. We suggest serving the artichokes with a medium bodied, dry red wine, not too complex. Could be Merlot, perhaps Malbec or Carménère.

What You Need

  • Young, Small Artichokes
  • One Garlic Clove
  • Fresh Thyme, Rosemary and Bay Leaf
  • One Lemon
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Heat your oven to 150 °C or 300 °F. Press the lemon and add the juice to a bowl of cold water. Slice the artichokes lengthwise in two. Add them to the water. Check if they have a centre choke. If so, try to remove. Let the artichokes soak for a few minutes. In the meantime peel the garlic and chop, coarsely. Add a generous amount of olive oil to your baking dish, dry the artichokes somewhat, add them to the dish, add the garlic, the sprigs of thyme and rosemary, the bay leaf. Mix. Sprinkle with more olive oil. Cover with aluminium foil and transfer to the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes increase the temperature to 180 °C or 355 °F. Leave for 30 minutes. Check if the artichokes are ready. The trick is simple. If you can remove a leave without too much trouble, they are ready, if not, give them 5 more minutes. You could also check the stem, it should be soft. Remove the foil and leave in the oven for another 5-10 minutes. In parallel fry some merguez sausages.


Artichokes require eating with your hands. Given the olive oil you may need an extra napkin or two.

Salad of Small Artichokes

The season of artichokes varies depending on the variety and where you are based. In Italy it’s from mid-winter until early spring, in other countries from March to June, or September and October. And in other countries they peak in August. Best is to decide based on quality and price. An artichoke should feel heavy, look fresh and the leaves should be closed. If the leaves are wide open, the artichoke is older and it could be dry with lots of choke (the hairs) and dry inner leaves.

Don’t cook artichokes in boiling water. They must cook for 45+ minutes and during the long cooking process they will lose most of their flavour. Best is to steam artichokes.

Serve large artichokes as a relaxing starter or use them to make Artichoke Barigoule or a Pie. We use smaller ones to make a salad.  You can serve it to accompany an aperitif, or with some bread as a starter. Make sure you have plenty of dressing!

Wine Pairing

It’s not straightforward to pair artichokes with wine. According to various researchers this is due to cynarin, a chemical especially found in the leaves of the artichoke. When the wine and the cynarin meet in your mouth, the natural sweetness of the wine is enhanced, making it taste too sweet. So you have to pair freshly cooked or steamed artichokes with a bone-dry, crisp, unoaked white wine with clear, present acidity. For instance, Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner or Albariño.
We enjoyed a glass of Château Pajzos Tokaj Furmint 2019. This dry, white wine made from the well-known Hungarian Furmint grape is fresh, clean and slightly floral. It supports the Salad of Artichokes beautifully.

What You Need

  • 6 small Artichokes
  • Olive Oil
  • Vinegar
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard
  • Garlic
  • Thyme
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Remove the stem of the artichokes and steam the artichokes for 45 – 60 minutes, depending on the size. Remove and let cool. Peel of the first layers of the outer leaves. Make the dressing by turning the mustard and the crushed garlic into a smooth paste. Then gently add the other ingredients and whisk well to make it really smooth, thick dressing. Cut the artichokes in 6 or 8 parts. Add to the dressing, mix well, coating all artichokes. Sprinkle lots of thyme and mix again. Put in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Mix again, taste, add some more thyme and serve!

Omelet with Artichoke

We love artichokes! It’s such fun to serve a steamed artichoke with a nice dipping sauce made of mayonnaise, whole grain mustard and some lemon juice. Thoroughly relaxing food. And when we have time on our hands, we prepare them à la barigoule.
Recently we wrote about la Cuisine Niçoise d’Hélène Barale. In this very informative book about the traditional food of Nice, you will find a recipe for an omelet with artichokes. We liked the idea, did our shopping and followed the instructions. Unfortunately, sorry Madame Barale!, we were not too happy with the result. The recipe suggests frying the omelet on medium heat on both sides. We think that’s a bit too much: in our case the flavours of the fried egg overwhelmed the subtle taste of the onion, artichoke and garlic. We tweaked the recipe (see below) but that shouldn’t stop you from buying the book and preparing the original.

The taste of the omelet is sweet thanks to cynarine, an intriguing chemical especially found in the leaves of the artichoke. Cynarine will enhance even the slightest trace of sweetness, in this case the sweetness of the onions and the cooked garlic. The taste of the artichoke is also nutty and bitter in a gentle way, which works really well with the eggs.

Wine Pairing

The cynarine will also enhance any sweetness in your wine, so you need a bone-dry, crisp, unoaked white wine with clear, present acidity. For instance a Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner or Albariño.

What You Need

  • 1 Large Artichoke
  • 1 Shallot
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 2 Eggs
  • Olive Oil
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Clean the artichoke, steam for 45 minutes depending on the size and let cool. Use a spoon to remove the ‘meat’ from the leaves (bracts) of the artichokes. Use a fork to make a chunky mash of the heart. Set aside.
Chop the shallot. Warm a heavy iron skillet, add olive oil and gently fry the shallot. Add the artichoke, mix and leave for 10 minutes on low heat. Mash the cooked garlic and add to the mixture. Add some black pepper. Beat two eggs, a bit longer than usual. Add the eggs to the mixture and allow to set, very slowly, making sure the omelet is baveuse (moist, warm and soft).