As in some of my recent posts, even today I found my inspiration on London Borough Market, and in Likya, one of Turkish grill houses of London.
This time it is artichokes that caught my eye, and later on, made my taste buds happy, in a form of a vegetable salad that I took as a starter in the above mentioned restaurant.
One thing is to use tinned artichokes, maybe making your life a bit easier, another thing is to prepare your own, a bit more time than opening the can demanded there, however, the pleasure and the taste are so worth it.
When buying fresh artichokes, avoid those with their leaves going brown, and pick those globes that are nice and firm, petals lovely earthy green, tight and the whole vegetable feeling a bit heavy when compared to its actual size – that’s when they’re not dry, and haven’t stayed on the shop shelves for long. Sometimes, you may see small brown patches on the petals, and that can mean they’ve been just “frost kissed”, which many people see and consider alright, making the vegetable even sweeter in fact.
The best place where to go for them would most probably be local farm markets or farm shops.
Before preparing your green globes at home, give them a little wash, and start trimming. Keep few slices of fresh lemons at the side as well, helping your artichokes keep the colour even after having their leaves trimmed.
First pull away any small excess leaves on the bottom and around the stem.
Artichokes are actually thistle flower buds, so you may start with cutting off the thorny parts of the petals using kitchen scissors. Go ahead rubbing around the globe with the lemon slice as soon as you start the cutting, too, to prevent them go brown. Next cut off the stem, leaving few centimetres, after being cooked, the inside may be eaten, too, so no need cutting it off completely. The stem actually leads to the “heart” of the artichoke, and that is the part used in the salads.
Next cut off the tip of the artichoke globe, unveiling the pretty middle of it – and honestly, throughout the whole process of preparing the vegetable, you can just enjoy its perfect shape, both as a cook, as well as a photographer, I loved it all along the way – shopping, and then from the cutting board to the pot and plate.
Now, you may do two things at this moment – you either decide for cutting further, pulling away the petals and cutting them off, scrapping even, to come to the “heart” , where you also clean the very centre of the “choke”, and cook. Or, the other, very usual thing, is to just rub your whole globe with lemon well, place the artichoke in boiling water, or steamer, if you like, and let cook or steam. Time of that, depends on how large the vegetable is – leave it at least 40 minutes, sometimes, even up to one hour.
I decide for the second option, because I don’t go just for the “heart” and want to enjoy the fleshy parts of the petals as well. I also add these ingredients into the water: 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 bay leaf, 5 whole black peppercorns, 1 tsp salt.
The best way to check whether your artichokes are cooked well and tender enough, is to try gently pull one of the bottom leaves – when that goes easily off, you know they’re done.
Now, the next and very important step is to get rid of the “choke” – which got its name for a good reason, too. It is the hairy inside of the globe, hiding under those pretty purple petals – cut the globe lengthways, and make sure you scrap all of the hairy “choke” off, simply using a spoon. If you do this after the artichoke is cooked, it goes much easier than doing it while it’s still fresh.
I kept some of the purple petals, for decorative reasons only, I just loved the colour. They’re not edible though.
All the effort of preparing your artichokes pays off – enjoy it bit by bit, with vinaigrette, garlic or mayo dressing, or simply with a splash of lemon juice and salt, or with butter, and finely chopped dill.
Pull the leaves one by one, dip their bottoms into the dressing, and let the bottom fleshy parts go through your teeth. The top parts of the petals are not edible.
I enjoyed it with mayo dressing, and then, also as the salad with cooked green peas, carrots, baby potatoes. When I got through to the “heart” under all the petal leaves, I simply sliced it and enjoyed it with the rest of the vegetables.
Delicious! Smile of joy.
During their top seasons which are spring and autumn, you can enjoy their best flavours, and not only that. They are also low in calories, yet rich in folic acid, vitamin C, B vitamins, Potassium and Iron as well.. Now, what possibly could stop you from having all the fun with them?
The way to cook artichokes in this post is the basic way – go ahead, and keep trying more – roast, stuffed, used in soups, dips and sauces.. truly delightful and pleasant vegetable to enjoy.