The recipe is inspired from the traditional Italian way of preserving in olive oil—and not just artichokes, but also pearl onions, green garlic, peppers, fresh fava, peperoncini, and more.
I always have jars of artichokes in the refrigerator, using my garden’s crop of small, thorny, purple Kea artichokes. In the spring, when you find the best artichokes at the farmers’ market, dedicate a day to peeling and preparing them, filling jars with delicious artichokes that can become the base for all kinds of dishes. Add them to salads, appetizers, grains, or pasta recipes. I stuff small breads with the leftovers from the bottom of the jar and use the olive oil in sauces and dressings, or keep it for next year’s artichoke preserves.
Makes a 1-quart (960-ml) jar
3 to 4 medium artichokes or 8 baby artichokes, peeled (see Note)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (for peeling; see Note)
1 lemon, quartered (for peeling; see Note)
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) white wine
1 cup (240 ml) white wine or cider vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1 small fennel bulb, quartered, each piece halved again
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, coarsely crushed with a mortar and pestle
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon pink peppercorns
2 to 3 bay leaves
2 small chilies, slashed lengthwise with scissors from the tip and almost to the stem (not detached)
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) good-quality olive oil, or more as needed
Quarter the large artichokes and halve the small ones, removing any fuzzy choke with a spoon. Rub the cut sides with the lemon quarters reserved from peeling the artichokes (see Note).
In a saucepan, combine the wine and vinegar, add the salt, bring the mixture to a boil, and add the artichokes. Cook for 4 minutes, or until barely fork-tender. Be careful not to let the artichokes get soft. Remove them with a slotted spoon and spread them on paper towels to drain.
Blanch the fennel bulb in the wine-vinegar mixture for 3 minutes, then drain on the paper towels along with the artichokes.
When the artichokes and fennel are dry, transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns, and chilies. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and toss well to mix.
Transfer the artichokes to the jar, inserting the bay leaves between the artichokes. Pour in enough olive oil to cover the pieces, pressing them down and making sure the oil comes about 2/3 inch (15 mm) above the vegetables.
Let stand at room temperature for 2 days, then refrigerate for up to 6 months. Bring the pieces you want to serve to room temperature, as the olive oil solidifies in the refrigerator. If you want to keep them longer on the shelf, you can properly seal the jar by boiling it for 15 minutes in a large pot of water that covers the jar by 2 inches (5 cm).
To peel the artichokes: Fill a medium bowl with cold water, add 1/4 cup (120 ml) lemon juice, and squeeze most of the juice from 1 quartered lemon into it; reserve the lemon quarters.
Working with one artichoke at a time, trim the stem to about 1 inch (2.5 cm). Snap off the bottom three rows of leaves, frequently rubbing the cut surfaces with the lemon quarters as you work to keep the artichokes white. Cut off the tip of the artichoke and rub the cut side with lemon. Drop the peeled artichoke in the bowl of lemon water and continue peeling the rest of the artichokes.