Artichokes are something, for years I had no clue how to cook and really couldn’t connect the thistle looking stem to the creamy artichoke hearts I would devour from the jar. They ar right at the end of their season for Melbourne, but as I saw some at the markets yesterday I though I would share.
They are indeed of the thistle family and not actually a vegetable, and if left on the plant they will flower
They have become rather popular as a center piece also.
It was my lovely friend Angie who showed me a simple but delicious ways to prepare artichokes a traditional Sicilian flavor that her mother had followed.
Preparing artichokes is a very fiddly job but well worth the effort I promise.
- Artichokes 2 -4 per person (I think if your going to go to the trouble then go all out)
- Fresh red chilies
- Olive oil
- A bowel of water with lemon juice
Have the bowel of water with lemon juice ready before you start.
Cut the chilies and garlic finely.
Take the outer tougher petals off the artichoke, then slice the head in half lengthwise and again into quarters, place into the lemon water whilst you prepare all of the artichokes.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan until hot, add the garlic and chilies, take the artichokes out of the water and dry thoroughly to save the oil ‘spitting’. Add the artichokes to the hot oil and cook for a few minutes. This can depend on the size of the pieces.
Take from the oil and drain thoroughly.
Now for the eating; the best part is the choke right in the center, but I also love the meaty bit in the petals, pull each petal off one by one and enjoy the thicker part- you almost need to scrape it across your bottom teeth- not very visitor friendly I know plus the oil will generally drip down your chin. A great dish to eat privately or with very good friends.
The smaller the artichoke the more tender the petals and you can eat almost all except the very outer ones.
Artichokes can be steamed and grilled, and dipped in aioli or mayonnaise, my favorite is as above, the garlic and chilies add a delicious punch.
There is some spiky pieces around the heart (or choke) which do need to be avoided on the larger ones as these can be bitter.
I always have a jar of store bought in the pantry (one thing I definitely do not have the patience to preserve myself) for the antipasto platter, a quick addition to pasta or pizza. But when I have the time and inkling to be messy I prepare them fresh. They never disappoint.