June 13, 2013

Marcella Hazan's Artichoke Lasagne

We both love artichokes, but for quite a long time we were intimidated by the prospect of actually cooking them. When I was a kid, my parents used to steam large artichokes that we would eat by plucking off each leaf, dipping it in lemon butter, and scraping off the good parts with our teeth, and discarding the rest. The best part was getting to the heart, where once you scraped of the choke you could just bite into artichoke deliciousness. 

While I always enjoyed those artichokes, Michael and I haven't felt that making them would be worth the effort for something that was just an appetizer. We wanted to eat a lot of artichoke, all together. Once we got baby artichokes, thinking that they would be easier to deal with, but they really weren't, and came out tasting quite bitter. Then we discovered this lasagne recipe from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Marcella explains quite clearly how to break down large artichokes to prep to steam them so that you get a good volume of usable artichoke. Then she has you mix the artichokes with b├ęchamel and layer them with sheets of fresh pasta and parmesan. The resulting dish is an absolutely perfect vehicle for the artichokes. So simple - like a haiku. In fact, it has inspired me to write some artichoke haiku. 

Lovely artichokes!
B├ęchamel and fresh pasta
Make spring perfection.

Spiky artichokes!
I'm not afraid of your thorns.
I will eat you up.