Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Artichokes with Ravigote Sauce

Artichokes and Ravigote Sauce
A Beautiful Combination

Recipe inspired by The Complete Book of Herbs

Even though I had no idea what it means, ravigote is a compelling word, especially when pronounced with a French accent. According to the Huffington Post Food Encyclopedia, ravigote is derived from the verb ravigoter, meaning “to perk up,” also translated as “to give new life to.” There are two types of ravigote: warm and cold. This recipe is for a cold ravigote, which is essentially a highly flavored vinaigrette. Ravigote is often used as a topping for fish and meat, and occasionally vegetables.

Inspiration to learn about ravigote came while perusing Leslie Bremness’ “The Complete Book of Herbs,” which is indeed a complete compendium of European herbs. Her recipe for Artichokes with Ravigote Sauce includes the traditional fines herbes (parsley, tarragon, chervil and chives,) and capers. She also adds some watercress and chopped pickles.

Walnut Oil, Tarragon Vinegar, Dijon Mustard and Mixed Herbs & Capers
Balanced Mix
But chervil is in rather short supply locally, that is to say nonexistent. Finding fresh, non-wilted tarragon is also challenging, at least for a few more weeks. So I used tarragon vinegar (and no tarragon) and skipped the chervil until I can grow some. I added Dijon mustard, which while not traditional is used by many modern ravigote chefs. I used equal amounts of chives and parsley to keep it simple. You can adjust the proportions of herbs and pickled ingredients according to your tastes or what you have on hand.

Though I wouldn’t add any nontraditional herbs, any combination ingredients that “perks up” whatever it’s spooned over will be true to the name “ravigote.” I like using a small amount of neutral, light tasting oil like walnut or sunflower,  to avoid overpowering the herby taste. Some chefs prefer using olive oil, and use quite a bit more oil. Your choice.

Artichoke with X Cut in Bottom
Make an X for Hydration
If you’re a fan of herbs and want to learn more about growing and preserving them, as well as how to use them for crafts, decorating, cooking, and natural moisturizers and other body products, add "The Complete Book of Herbs” to your summer reading list. In addition to standard cooking herbs, you’ll learn about flowers such as roses, sunflowers, honeysuckle and calendulas, as well as herbal trees. You’ll also see some beautiful and ambitious plans for herb gardens, which are perfect fodder for summery dreaming in the hammock. 

Glass Dish of Ravigote Sauce
Ready to Top Artichokes or Fish
Artichokes with Ravigote Sauce
serves 4

4 medium artichokes
Water for steaming
1½ tbsp. tarragon vinegar
1 tsp. smooth Dijon mustard
½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. water
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. finely chopped chives
2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp. finely chopped capers
2 tsp. finely chopped cornichons
2 tbsp. walnut oil


Allow 1½ - 2 hours to cook the artichokes, if possible. Learn more about why I use this artichoke cooking method here. Trim spikey tops off artichokes with a knife. Hydrate artichokes by cutting off the stem close to the ‘choke. Cut an X into the stem end, an inch or so up into the artichoke heart. Let soak in water 2” deep, stem side down, for 20 minutes to 1 hour. You can use the pot that you’ll cook them in.

Remove artichokes, put steamer into pot and add water to steam if necessary. Steam 25 – 45 minutes, depending upon the size. If very small, it might take only 20 minutes. After 20-25 minutes, test every 5 minutes by pulling off a leaf and testing it with your teeth. Be sure to check the water level periodically so ‘chokes don’t boil dry.

Or use your favorite artichoke preparation method.

Ravigote Sauce

Stir tarragon vinegar together with Dijon mustard until smooth. Stir in lemon juice, water, and salt. Stir in chopped parsley and chives until uniformly distributed. Stir in finely chopped capers and cornichons. Stir in walnut oil.

Serve with hot or cold artichokes, or on grilled fish such as salmon.

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