A variety of edible thistle, the Artichoke is one of the real joys of summer in both flavour and fragrance. Though cultivated in Britain – particularly in the South – the heartland of the Globe Artichoke is the Mediterranean, where it grows wild and in prodigious quantity. Indeed, the artichoke is best known for its use in Italian cuisine. But before we get onto all of the clever things that can be done with artichoke hearts, let me show you how to prepare the vegetable and enjoy its meaty leaves.
There are numerous ways to cook your over-endowed thistle, but steaming is probably the most popular. However, since my kitchen isn’t currently blessed with a steamer, boiling will have to do. Many of you will, no doubt, chastise me for “boiling all the flavour and nutrients away”, but it makes very little difference and life’s simply too short! However, if a steamer you possess, making use of it for 30 minutes should suffice.
Artichokes are – on their own – full of flavour and don’t need much of a leg-up over the culinary wall, so to speak. However, two cloves of garlic and the juice of 1 lemon in your boiling water will complement that base flavour nicely, allowing your thistle to… blossom. Add to that a simple dip of extra virgin olive oil, emulsified together with an extra twist of lemon juice and you’ll find yourself reclining in food heaven. This stuff makes such an exceptional starter or nibble.
How to Cook Globe Artichokes
- 2 globe artichokes
- 1 lemon
- 2 cloves of garlic
- a pinch of salt
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Trim the outer layer of leaves from the artichokes and cut the stem down to 1-2cm. Place them in a large pan.
- Top the pan up with water until halfway up the artichokes. Add the garlic, salt and most of the lemon juice, leaving a smidge for the dressing. If steaming follow the same process, only steam the artichokes.
- Bring the water to a gentle boil, pop the lid on and cook for 30-40 minutes, until soft. Meanwhile, beat together the olive oil and remaining lemon juice.
- Once cooked the artichoke is ready to eat. The best way of doing this is to peel each leaf from the thistle, dip it in the dressing and “scrape” the meaty part of the leaf with your teeth.
- Next, get to the hearts of your artichokes by removing any remaining leaves and the furry centre. Snap off the remnants of the stem – the heart is the soft, fragrant, slightly grey part right in the centre. These are delicious on pizza, with pasta or even as a dip.
Cost: As you can see, this recipe is incredibly simple. Simple recipes are usually inexpensive, there is no difference here. Globe artichokes can be bought for around 50-60p each at this time of year, with the other ingredients coming in well under 60p themselves. As such, you can enjoy this smashing starter or snack for as little as £1.50.
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