Is there anything more exciting (or prettier) than spring vegetables showing up at your local market? Okay, maybe so, but I’ll put the arrival of artichokes, skinny asparagus, young rainbow carrots, peas, spring onions, you name it, right up there with some of life’s most soul-satisfying moments.
I simply can’t stress fresh and simple enough when it comes to these beautiful vegetables. Two keys in bringing out the best in their natural goodness—both nutrition and flavor: lightly cook and lightly dress.
No matter the cooking method, add the vegetables to the pan in the order of cooking time so that everything finishes together with maximum flavor and texture. For the carrots, asparagus, and snap peas in this recipe, that texture is crisp-tender.
Sautéing, searing, and steaming are great methods for getting the most out of vegetables—and it’s good to know which method is best for each veggie. Artichokes are great for pan-searing (steaming, not so much). A little oil, salt and pepper, and a splash of lemon juice bring out the caramelized tenderness of artichokes. Depending on the size of the pieces, they typically take 15-20 minutes.
On the other hand, asparagus and snap peas are great for steaming, and it takes only a few minutes. For this recipe, I steamed the carrots too—thin, diagonally cut slices that take a little longer to cook than the other vegetables, so they go into the steamer basket first.
Slice the Carrots on the Bias
Searing small pieces of artichoke and steaming the other vegetables takes about the same amount of time here, so have everything ready to go and simply do some side-by-side cooking.
To finish, toss the steamed vegetables into the skillet with the artichokes and drizzle all with a little fresh lemon juice (sweet Meyer lemon, if available) and chopped herbs. Nothing more needed.
Meyer Lemon and Herbs
Note: For step-by-step instructions (with photos) on trimming and preparing artichokes for cooking, see Pan-Seared Artichokes with Olive Oil and Lemon.
- 2 tbsp fresh Meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon juice)
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme, and oregano
- 2 tbsp olive oil, plus more as needed
- 1 large artichoke, trimmed and cut into 8 pieces
- 2-3 lemon wedges
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 6 oz thin rainbow carrots (4-5 small carrots), cut on the bias into thin pieces
- 6 oz asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 4 oz snap peas, cut lengthwise in half
- Carrots, Peas, and Asparagus Ready to Steam
- Artichoke in Lemon Water