Roasted Artichokes with Sage Blossoms and Lemon BalmColumns Food & Drink 

Roasted Artichokes with Sage Blossoms and Lemon Balm

By Alison Steele

If you’ve been following along, you’ll notice that I love harvesting edible flowers to flavor our food. Reeling us in with color, then aroma, and capturing our taste buds with the melding of essential oils, flowering herbs are a complex flavor addition to any meal. Continuing the edible flower theme, this week’s recipe is nothing short of food fit for royalty. Artichokes…the ultimate edible flower experience! Moving here, we were stunned by the row upon row of spikey green orbs lining the coast. One of the first plants we sunk into the ground after signing on to our small plot of land, artichokes became queen in our garden. This recipe is an evolution of one that my husband makes and continues to change as we observe what plants ripen together.

Now that we have an abundant olive harvest, those were the obvious additions this year. If you’ve dried tomatoes from last year’s summer garden, soak and use those!

Roasted Artichokes with Sage Blossoms and Lemon Balm

16 small artichokes, 16 lemon balm tips, 16 sage blossoms – or –

32 tips and sprigs of herbs growing in your kitchen garden (rosemary & thyme perhaps!)

½ c kalamata olives, chopped small

Head of garlic, peeled & roughly chopped Zest and juice of 3 lemons

Stick of butter, ½ melted and ½ cut into small cubes or coconut oil

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

Serves 4 as a main dish or many more as appetizers. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Fill a big bowl halfway with water and the juice of 2 lemons (zest first!), leaving room for the artichoke hearts to be completely covered with the lemon water. Using a bread knife, slice off the top of the artichoke. Flip it around and slice off the stem. With a paring knife, pop off the tough lower leaves, then slice the artichoke in half lengthwise with the bread knife. Scoop out the center thistle with a melon baller or small spoon, leaving a cavity for the butter, garlic, and olives to rest in. Toss into the lemon water to keep the chokes from oxidizing while preparing the rest.

Once you’ve prepped all the chokes, lay them cavity side up onto a baking tray lined with parchment and brush both sides with melted butter or roasting oil of choice. Fill the centers with chopped garlic, olives, and a cube of butter then sprinkle with lemon zest, salt, and a good grating of pepper. Finally, top with fresh herbs, drizzle with olive oil and squeeze the remaining lemon over the top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Reduce the heat to 350°F, remove the foil and let roast another 15-20 minutes depending on how big your chokes are. A thin knife easily inserted into an artichoke heart will let you know when it’s ready. Use the petal end as a handle and sink your teeth into the heart of the Queen edible flower…absolutely delicious with a side of grass-fed sausage and a hunk of crusty sourdough!

A native of Virginia, Alison Steele lives with her husband, two children, and cat in Boulder Creek where she raises quail, chickens, fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs. Alison plays banjo and sings in Sugar by the Pound.

Featured photo: Roasted Artichokes with Sage Blossoms and Lemon Balm

Photo by Alison Steele

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