Flowers, though quiet, have a lot to say. For instance: I’m sorry. I like you. And, at winter formal: You’re mine.

The tradition, one tradition has it, dates back to the damsel who ripped a swatch from her gown and pressed it into the armored fingers of her departing knight. He was hers.

Now she wears a corsage, which means bodice, though it snaps around the wrist. He wears a boutonniere, which means buttonhole, though it’s generally secured with a pin. Let’s hope there’s no teen so prickly that the archaic, inaccurate lingo spoils the occasion.

Plus the matchy thing is kinda cute, once. The young romantic might choose a single rosebud, or — more fancifully — a pinwheel, feather or origami contraption. He might even consider a fried artichoke, which is, after all, a pale green, if prickly, blossom. It’s all heart. And tastier than rose, pinwheel, feather or origami.

Artichoke Bouquet

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 pounds (about 13) fresh tiny artichokes
  • Olive oil
  • 1 whole clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • Rub together zest and salt. Set aside.

Snap off artichoke leaves (actually, they’re petals), exposing leaves that are pale green at the base, dark green at the point. Use a serrated knife to halve the artichoke, leaving only the pale portion. Use a vegetable peeler to smooth any notches and trim away dark green skin of the stem. Now you’ve got something that looks like a pale green rosebud.

Pour oil into a sturdy pot to a depth of 1-1/2 inches. Drop in garlic and thyme. Heat oil to 230 degrees F. Lower in as many artichokes as fit in a single layer. Oil should bubble around the artichokes as they poach — not fry.

Cook until tender (poke with a skewer just above the stem — it should be easy work), about 10 to 12 minutes. Use tongs to lift out artichokes and drain, stem-side up, on paper towels.

Repeat, if need be, poaching all artichokes. Discard garlic and thyme.

When artichokes are cool enough to handle (about 10 minutes), gently prize open the leaves just a bit, showing off the artichoke’s roselike bloom. Heat the same pot of oil to 365 degrees F. Fry artichokes until golden brown, about 2 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels. Arrange the bouquet on a plate. Sprinkle with lemon salt. Munch.

Makes 13 artichokes, 4 servings.

Home on the Range is a Tribune News Service column by Leah Eskin, which offers “delicious essays and insightful recipes.”

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