Artichoke Hearts in Olive Oil and Lemon Marinade
Serves 8 to 10
Freshly marinated artichokes hearts are much more flavorful than the store-bought varieties. The process is rewarding and not too difficult.
When shopping for artichokes, look for ones with bracts that are tightly closed or only slightly open. Artichokes should be firm and fresh looking, with no brown or soft spots. They should also feel heavy. If the underside of an artichoke stem has small holes, do not buy it, as it may have worm damage. Squeeze it—if it sounds squeaky, it is okay. To store, place dry artichokes in a plastic bag and refrigerate for no more than 5 days.
¼ cup lemon juice concentrate mixed with 4 cups water for acidulated water
6 fresh artichokes
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (5 to 6 lemons)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Put the acidulated water near the work area and trim the artichokes. Remove the tough bracts (outer leaves), cut the artichokes in half lengthwise, and remove the hairy inner chokes, trimming the leaves close to the hearts.
2. Cut the artichoke hearts into quarters, or into sixths if they are large. After each one is cut, place it in the acidulated water, so it will not discolor.
3. When all the artichoke hearts have been prepared, remove them from the bowl and arrange them in a large glass jar.
4. Combine the olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and salt in a small glass bowl. Mix well.
5. Pour the lemon-oil marinade over the artichoke hearts, adding more oil if necessary to cover them completely. Seal the jar tightly and leave at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, rotating the jar a few times each day. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Serve the artichokes on a tray with a small amount of the brine.
Baby Eggplants Pickled in Aleppian Brine
Makes 12 to 15 pickles (1 ½ gallons)
The intriguing beauty of the eggplant—from its curvy, pear shape to its shiny, smooth skin—is indisputable. Eggplants come in a variety of sizes (from tiny to large), shapes (from oval to spherical), and colors (deep purple, pale violet, white, or green). They are grown in many places, including the United States, Italy, China, Japan, India, and Thailand. The daintier varieties, such as Japanese eggplants, tend to have a mild flavor and fewer seeds than the typical large variety. For this recipe, it is essential to start off with tiny, firm, farm-fresh eggplants; their calyxes (the leafy crowns) should be bright green. When the pickled eggplants are cut open, they are usually slightly pink at their core.
1 dozen baby eggplants, stems trimmed, leaving leafy crowns intact
2 ribs celery, chopped into 2-inch pieces
4 unpeeled garlic cloves, halved
½ cup white vinegar
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper, or ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ cup kosher salt
1. Pierce each eggplant with a fork in two places. In a large pot, bring 3 cups water to a boil over high heat. Carefully put the eggplants in the boiling water and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool.
2. To make the brine, combine 3 cups water, celery, garlic, vinegar, Aleppo pepper, and salt in a large bowl.
3. Put the eggplants into several jars. Pour the brine over the eggplants, filling each jar to the brim. Cover tightly (see step 2, page 69). The pickles will be ready in 3 to 4 days and will last 2 months in the refrigerator.