Most of us went through the vegetable chapter and cooked ahead to take advantage of peak season. But, somehow, I missed the boat on my very first - artichokes. When I realized my oversight, we were already into late November. So I began searching for a suitable substitute for fresh and finally settled on a jar of baby artichoke hearts I found at Sam's Wholesale (of all places).
The brand name was unfamiliar to me, but it was preserved only in water, salt, and citric acid. In addition the company, Terra Verde, promotes its corporate responsibility and humanitarian efforts with an interesting, if somewhat self-congratulatory, story on the side of the jar. I decided to give them a try.
Of course I had to skip the instructions for boiling the artichokes and instead soaked them in several changes of icy water, then drained them on paper towels and patted very dry before slicing. Since I was serving this with Christmas dinner I quadrupled the recipe to serve 16.
After slicing each artichoke heart, I layered them in a buttered baking dish alternating with fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano and dots of butter. The top layer had an additional layer of cheese.
They baked on the top rack in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes until the cheese crusted a beautiful golden brown.
Even though this was a delicious side dish, and everyone said they enjoyed them very much, I could still tell that they were not made from fresh artichokes. Regardless of the extra effort to rinse and rinse again, you could still taste that slight tang of a "preserved" taste. This spring I'll make them again, from scratch.