Image above: artichoke flower and see the bee hiding inside!

Recipe: Artichoke Gratin

There aren’t a whole lot of recipes for artichokes, but this super simple recipe is spectacular and quick to prepare. Chef John at Food Wishes makes cooking easy and fun, and as always, uses only top quality ingredients.

6 Artichoke Hearts with Stems, in a glass jar of water, like the ones at Trader Joe’s or a fine deli. cut lengthwise so you have 12 halves. Place them face down for 20 minutes on paper towel so the liquid drains out. Then place them face up on an oiled and foiled sheet tray.

You will then sprinkle the following ingredients over each artichoke half:

Sea salt, black pepper, ½ teaspoon of fine, dry breadcrumbs for each one.

Top each with freshly grated Reggiano Parmesan cheese.

Drizzle a few drops of olive oil over them to make them more broiler friendly

Turn broiler to high and preheat oven. Slide artichoke hearts in, about 5-6 inches away from the heat, until they are done. Broil on high for about 7 minutes, then remove from oven.

Drizzle a little fresh lemon juice over them and arrange on a serving plate or eat as you wish.

This 3:34-minute video shows Chef John preparing them with ease.

Artichokes and Bees

People who love bees and grow artichokes usually let some go to flower as a gift to the bees. Watching bees descend onto an unharvested artichoke flower bud that goes into bloom is such a treat. It’s like watching a giddy bunch of food lovers exploring a purple extravaganza buffet. They navigate, dive in one end and wriggle out the other. The flower is like a bee theme park and you can sense their excitement. All sorts of bees love foraging on the nectar and pollen of artichoke flowers, whether they are honeybees, long or short-tongued bumblebees, solitary bees… even those other beautiful pollinators, butterflies, love them, too.  

This 30 second video shows oodles of excited bumblebees in an eating frenzy on an artichoke flower:

The artichoke is from the Asteraceae family, known in the USA as the French artichoke, green artichoke and globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus). It is a variety of thistle that was cultivated into a food. Artichokes flower in August and September, providing late summer and early autumn delights for bees. Then they are harvested in spring and summer, providing delights for humans. Nearly 100% of the US crop of artichokes is grown in California, although the plant is native to the Mediterranean Sea countries and has a rich ancient history in many countries there.

Several ecstatic honeybees are gorging themselves on a stunning artichoke flower in this 1:35-minute video:

And last but not least, for those of you who don't have a clue how to handle artichokes, and are a bit scared of them due to their thorny reputation, this 5:27-minute video How to Cook Artichokes by Popsugar Food with Brandi Milloy will fill in the gaps in your culinary education:

If you try the artichoke gratin, do let us know over on our Facebook page how you enjoyed the subtle flavors. Bon appetit!