The main California artichoke belt stretches from San Mateo County south into Monterey County. Christie Vogel of El Granada, at the northern end of the region, wrote enthusiastically about her way of cooking the vegetables: She roasts them, to maximize their nutty flavor. The process is so simple, you can tuck it in your head; just choose the number of artichokes to cook, and pick a pan (or pans) into which they will fit.
PREP AND COOK TIME: About 1 hour
MAKES: 1 or 2 servings from each artichoke
1. Choose artichokes that are 3 to 4 1/2 inches wide. Break off and discard small outer leaves. With a knife, slice off artichoke tips. With scissors, snip thorn tips from remaining leaves. Trim dark base from stem ends and, with a knife, peel coarse fibers from stems and artichoke bottoms. Cut artichokes in half lengthwise, rinse well, and drain briefly.
2. Choose a pan in which the artichokes fit close together in a single layer (6 halves fit in a 9- by 13-in. pan); if there are large spaces, the juices will scorch.
3. For each artichoke, pour 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil into pan and add 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme. Roll artichokes in oil to coat, and turn cut sides down. Slide 1 thin lemon slice and 1 peeled garlic clove under each artichoke half. Seal pan with foil.
4. Bake in a 375º oven until artichoke bottoms are tender when pierced, 40 to 50 minutes.
5. Transfer artichokes, cut sides up, to a platter; top with lemon and garlic, and sprinkle with salt to taste. Drizzle artichokes with pan drippings; or add butter and lemon juice (about 1 teaspoon each for each artichoke half) to roasting pan, place over high heat (if container is microwave-safe, put in a microwave oven at full power ― 100%) until butter is melted, and drizzle over artichokes. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Per 1/2 artichoke with butter and lemon juice: 118 cal., 67% (79 cal.) from fat; 2.8 g protein; 8.8 g fat (2.1 g sat.); 9.3 g carbo (4.2 g fiber); 97 mg sodium; 5.2 mg chol.