Roasted Artichokes with Garlic

The artichoke navel of the world is Castroville near Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco, and the garlic navel is Gilroy near Monterey Bay, south of Half Moon. Both thistle and bulb were planted in Spanish missions, but few non-Spaniards ate them until Italians arrived in sufficient numbers in the late nineteenth century to cultivate and consume both in quantity. While it was the Palace Hotel in San Francisco that elevated the artichoke to gastronomic chicdom in the 1920s, it was Chez Panisse in Berkeley that finally enthroned the garlic in Alice’s annual Garlic Gala, in which garlic stars in every course, including a dessert of garlic sherbet. Here I roast the two vegetables together for a first course or main dish, adding crusty bread and baked goat cheese, in the style of California-Med.

Ingredients

  • 4 large globe artichokes, or 18 small ones
  • 2 whole heads garlic
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3–4 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary
  • 6–8 ounces chèvre
  • ½ cup fresh bread crumbs or grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 loaf French bread

Method

Cut large artichokes into quarters, cut off their tops halfway down, trim their bottoms, and remove the thorny chokes. (Very small ones can be cooked whole.) Drop the cut artichokes into acidulated water to prevent discoloring. Break the garlic heads into single cloves and parboil 2 or 3 minutes, then remove their skins. Put the artichokes and garlic in a shallow baking pan, pour on the oil, season with salt, pepper, and herbs, cover with foil, and bake at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove 2 or 3 tablespoons oil to a plate and roll the chèvre in it. Then sprinkle the chèvre on all sides with crumbs (or grated Parmesan), put the chèvre in the baking pan with the vegetables, and bake until the cheese is heated through, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with toasted or grilled slices of French bread.