Artichokes are here! These tasty little thistles are big in our house. In fact, growing up, artichokes were my absolute favorite food. I loved the way they look, the ritual of eating them (we were/are a lemon+melted butter family), and of course the taste. It never occurred to me that people from other places didn't also adore this peculiar-looking veggie... When I first moved to San Francisco, some of my flat-mates were English. They took one look at me, tucking into a khaki-green thistle, scraping each leaf on my teeth, placing the leaves in a giant heap... and they just couldn't believe it. I had lost the plot.
I've been planning this pizza for a couple of weeks, as soon as artichokes started coming into season. And it was delicious. Cooking with baby artichokes is so fun. We do pastas, braises etc., and everything's edible: no choke, no problem. Plus they're so cute.
Baby Artichoke Pizza
Do ahead: Par-roast the baby artichokes. Oven to 500˚ (seems high but this is your pizza-cooking temp). Squeeze half a lemon into a small bowl of water. Remove tough outer leaves of 3 baby artichokes (down to the pale yellow-green leaves), trim tops and bottoms and peel the stems. Slice lengthwise, 1/4" thick. Drop slices immediately into the lemon water to prevent browning. When all artichokes are prepared, drain the slices well. Toss with extra virgin olive oil plus a little sea salt and roast on a tray for about 10 minutes, tossing once, until the slices just start taking on color. Remove from oven and set aside.
To assemble pizzas: start with basic pizza recipe. Thinly slice one clove garlic and steep it in extra virgin olive oil for a few minutes. Roll out your dough and brush with garlic oil. Reserve garlic. Sprinkle oiled dough with a handful each of grated mozzarella and comté* cheeses. Arrange the artichoke slices on the pizza, plus about 12 thin slices of a cleaned leek. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme, some red pepper flakes and a few slices of the reserved garlic. Drizzle with a touch of extra virgin olive oil, to ensure the vegetables finish cooking. Lightly salt the entire pizza and cook according to basic recipe.
To serve, sprinkle with a bit of baby arugula. Squeeze a lemon wedge and enjoy.
*Comté is a delicious French melting cheese. Gruyere or Fontina are good substitutes.