[Note: Though ultimately an easy dish, with a 20-25 minute cooking time, the artichokes require a bit of prep.]
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Cutting directly through the leaves, cut off the tops of the artichokes, about an inch above the choke (about 3 inches above the stem). Discard tops.
Using your hand, snap off all of the outer leaves. With a heavy duty peeler, peel away all of the green, leaving a whitish bottom and stem. Cut lengthwise into quarters (through the stem and bottom). Remove “choke” (the fuzzy middle and smallest leaves), and cut each quarter in half lengthwise.
Trim the fuzzy root end off spring onions (or scallions). If necessary, peel away any bruised or wilting layers of onions. Trim green ends to about 2 inches above the white part of the onion (of course, if they’re red, above the red part!).
Toss the artichokes and onions in the oil and lemon juice, and sprinkle liberally with salt and a bit of pepper.
Spread on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast the vegetables until lightly browned and tender, about 20-25 minutes.
In a small bowl, toss finely grated cheese and lemon zest.
Heap vegetables on a warmed serving plate or deep bowl, cover with a shower of the cheese and lemon zest, and sprinkle with the pepper.
This dish is delicious directly out of the oven, at room temperature, or cold the next day.
You can make this a meatier one-dish meal by adding bite-sized chunks of uncooked chicken (boneless, skinless thighs are particularly good) to the vegetables before roasting.
Herbs are a perfect addition; Try crumbled oregano or a light sprinkle of chopped rosemary for a Mediterranean touch. Pitted oil-cured olives are another delicious addition.
Adding garlic is a no-brainer: Try whole unpeeled cloves, to be squeezed onto the vegetables once all are roasted, or coarsely chopped garlic, added about 5-8 minutes before the dish is fully cooked.
Splurge a little and add several tablespoons of pine nuts to the pan about 5 minutes before the dish is done – they double the rich nuttiness of the dish.
Try spices – tart sumac, warm cumin, a bit of cayenne, even curry.
Other vegetables also roast beautifully with the artichokes:
– Tiny spring potatoes (look for the ones the size of marbles) or quarter slightly larger ones
– Quartered radishes, or whole slender French breakfast radishes
– Asparagus, tough ends removed, cut into 3” lengths
Or, toss in a cup or so of barely steamed English peas or snap peas once the vegetables are roasted.
This is dish is an enticing way to swing into Spring, fork and knife at the ready. Dig in!