Makes 6 servings
3 cups water
1 cup dry white wine
Juice of 2 lemons
2 pounds baby artichokes (about 16)
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil, stems reserved
1 medium white onion, cut into ¼-inch dice
5 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Maldon or other flaky sea salt
Hot red peppers
Tiny fresh mint leaves for garnish (optional)
Thinly sliced red onion for garnish (optional)
A 3-ounce chunk of grana padano cheese for shaving
Combine the water, wine, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Pull off the tough outer leaves from each artichoke, then cut off the top ½ inch of the remaining leaves. Trim the bottom of the artichoke stem, then cut off the top outer layer of the stem with a paring knife. Transfer the artichokes to the lemon juice mixture as you work, to prevent oxidation. Click here to watch this process in action!
Transfer the artichokes and their liquid to a medium pot; if necessary, add more water to cover the artichokes. Add the basil stems, onion, garlic, and bay leaf, put a pan lid on top of the artichokes to keep them submerged, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the artichokes are tender (test the centers with the tip of a sharp knife), 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the artichokes, reserving the garlic, and let cool slightly; discard the basil stems and bay leaf.
Halve the artichokes lengthwise with a sharp knife. Chop or mash the garlic. Transfer the artichokes and garlic to a sauté pan, add the oil, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the artichokes are very tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and red pepper flakes and serve, or let stand at room temperature for up to 1 hour to bring out the flavors. (The artichokes can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before serving.)
To serve, transfer the artichokes to a bowl, scatter the mint leaves and red onion, if using, over them, and, using a vegetable peeler, shave the cheese over the top.