For an amazing meatless meal worthy of a wonderful weekend treat, try Artichokes Braised with Fennel, Leeks and Peas. Superb!
Artichokes Braised with Fennel Leeks and Peas

Artichokes Braised with Fennel, Leeks and Peas
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
  • 4 large artichokes
  • water; as needed
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1/4 Cup diced shallots
  • 2 leeks, white and 1-inch pale green; sliced 1/4-inch
  • 1/2 Cup white wine
  • 2 fennel bulbs; cut into 1-inch wedges, joined at root end
  • 2 1/2 Cups vegetable or chicken broth or water (to 3 Cups)
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 small boiling potatoes; quartered, or lengthwise halved fingerlings
  • 1/2 Cup creme fraiche (to 3/4 Cup)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 Cup peas or shelled fava beans
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fennel greens and/or parsley
  1. Snap off several layers of the tough outer artichoke leaves by pulling them downward so that they break off at the base. Stop when the inner leaves become a lighter yellowish green and look tender.
  2. Trim the stem and slice off the top third of the artichoke. with a paring knife, smooth the rough areas around the base, removing any dark green parts.
  3. Cut the trimmed artichoke into sixths. Remove the fuzzy chokes of mature artichokes with a paring knife.
  4. Set artichokes in bowl with enough water to cover and lemon juice.
  5. Melt butter in wide soup pot over medium-high heat. Add shallots and leeks and cook, stirring frequently, without browning, 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine, raise heat and simmer 2 minutes.
  6. Drain artichokes and add them to pot along with fennel and broth. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste, then press a piece of crumbled parchment or wax paper directly over vegetables.
  7. Bring to boil, then simmer, covered, until artichokes are tender, about 35 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile steam potatoes until tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
  9. When artichokes and fennel are tender, remove them with slotted spoon to dish.
  10. Whisk creme fraiche and mustard into broth and boil briskly to make a thin sauce, 5 to 10 minutes.
  11. Add peas, cook over medium heat until tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then return vegetables and potatoes to pot. Add fennel greens and serve.
This recipe yields 4 to 6 servings.

Each of 6 servings: 272 calories; 569 mg sodium; 37 mg cholesterol; 12 grams fat; 33 grams carbohydrates; 10 grams protein; 2.64 grams fiber.

Variations: As the season progresses, take advantage of small market carrots, the last asparagus, the first zucchini or tender new turnips. For the fall artichoke crop, include diced celery root with the artichokes. Cool-weather sorrel, finely chopped (about 1/2 Cup per recipe) simmered with the cream and then pureed, adds a bright, lemony bit to the dish.

Comments: A bit more of an effort than the artichoke saute, this would be a dish for a spring supper, and it can easily be a vegetarian main dish. I often serve it with steamed spinach, and if fresh fava beans are available, I'll include some of them too. Serve toasted country bread rubbed lightly with garlic in each bowl. I like to use new red potatoes for this recipe.

NOTES : Recipe by Deborah Madison, author of "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" (Broadway Books, 1997)

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