There is nothing quite like a freshly braised artichoke. It is satisfying and tender, the perfect highlight in a pizza, salad or pasta dish without being an egomaniac.
Choosing an artichoke. An artichoke is a flower, and selecting an artichoke is a sensory exercise: you are looking for a glossy sheen, heavy feel, squeaky sound and tightly-packed petals (aka “leaves”). Sites such as Glen Valley Artichoke Farms and GourmetSleuth.com go into further detail about selection criteria; About.com: Italian Food tells you to store artichokes in a vase of water, as for other cut flowers, until you are ready to use.
Preparing an artichoke. You can follow the About.com directions for artichoke preparation, or you can follow these basic steps:
- Tear off the outer petals until the lighter inner petals are revealed. Discard the tough leaves from the very outside, but save the others to one side > they still have some flesh attached, which will be delicious once cooked.
- Trim the stem to 1-2 inches in length, then use a knife to peel the green layer from the bottom of the artichoke.
- Cut about a third from the top of the artichoke, then cut in half and use a knife or spoon to remove the furry choke (which isn’t always necessary if the artichoke is very fresh).
- Immediately place the artichoke in cold acidulated water (water with added lemon juice, white vinegar or verjuice), until ready to cook.
Recipe #45: Braised artichoke.
You will need:
► 1 artichoke with leaves, prepared as above
► 1 clove of garlic, roughly crushed
► ~1 tsp fresh ginger, roughly chopped
► 2-3 tbsp good olive oil
► either a cup of the acidulated water (from the artichoke prep), or a good swirl of vinegar/verjuice
► good pinch of salt
Place all ingredients in a saucepan and just cover with cold water.
Bring to the boil and simmer for ~20 minutes. The artichoke looks really meaty, it smells delicious and the braising is done!
The proof is always in the pudding. While you’re making the salad to follow, you can enjoy a taste-test by scraping little morsels of artichoke flesh off the cooked loose petals with your teeth.
Recipe #46: Artichoke & Persian feta salad. Serves 2.
You will need:
► 1 braised artichoke (as above), cut into quarters or eighths
► 2 cups of salad leaves, eg. rocket, cos, beetroot
► Leftover roast chicken
► Persian feta in oil
► pepita seeds [or you could substitute any other nut/seed]
► aged balsamic vinegar
► good quality extra virgin olive oil
Arrange the salad leaves over two plates. Tear over some of the chicken and crumble over some feta. Sprinkle over some pepita seeds and lay half of the artichoke over each plate. Drip over a little aged balsamic, followed by a swirl of olive oil, and you’re ready to eat.
There are no quantities listed here because the whole process is very tactile and personal. You can add or substitute anything you want, so long as the variety of textures is maintained and the oil-acid base is balanced. It really is so easy and delicious. Let me know how you go with it!