Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Eating an artichoke is a labor of love, but like most delicacies, it’s worth the effort...
Artichokes have a subtle flavour that compliments smoked- and spicy meats like Parma ham and Chorizo sausage. They are usually eaten warm and dipped in a hollandaise sauce, melted butter or a home-made garlic mayonnaise. The leaves are peeled off and held on the tip while the inner fleshy part of the leaf is dipped into the sauce and eaten off. This is a fun and delicious starter to enjoy around the table together.

When all the leaves are removed, using a spoon, discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the choke) covering the artichoke heart. The remaining base of the artichoke is the heart and the most flavorsome bit. Cut this into pieces and dip it in the sauce or preserve it in a good quality olive oil with fresh herbs to use on a meat platter or as a pizza topping.

How to prepare and cook an artichoke
TIP: The lemon juice is to prevent the artichoke from discolouring during oxidation.

Step1: If the artichokes have little thorns on the end of the leaves, take a kitchen scissors and cut off the horned tips off all the leaves- this is simply for aesthetics and makes the leaves easier to hold when eating.

Step2: Cut about 2 cm off the tip of the artichoke.

Step3: Pull off any smaller leaves towards the base of the stem.

Step4: Cut excess stem off leaving about 2 cm on the base, alternatively, cut the stem off, remove the fibrous outer layer (which can be bitter) and cook the stems along with the artichokes.

Step5: Rinse the artichokes.

Step6: In a large pot, add enough water for your artichokes to be covered as well as a garlic clove, a slice of lemon and a bay leaf and bring the water to the boil.
Add the artichokes and simmer at a low heat for 25-45 minutes, depending on the size of the artichokes. You’ll know that they are ready when the outer leaves peel off easily.

Artichoke Hearts with Hollandaise sauce (Serves 4)

8-12 artichoke hearts
100g butter
3 egg yolks
Juice of ½ lemon
20 ml water
Salt and freshly milled black pepper, to taste


• Cook the artichoke hearts in boiling water with a few drops of lemon juice to prevent the artichokes from discolouring. Simmer them for 7-10 minutes or until they are soft.

• Melt the butter until hot and foamy, but not browned.

• Beat the eggs and the lemon juice together and gradually add the melted butter, then the water. Return the sauce to the pot and cook on a low heat for a few minutes until it has thickened slightly.

• Arrange the artichoke hearts on a platter season the hollandaise sauce and drizzle it over the artichoke hearts.

• Garnish with fresh herbs and serve as a start for a summer dinner party.

Artichoke Risotto with Parmesan and wild rocket (Serves 4)


1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
60ml olive oil
100g risotto rice (Arborio rice)
125ml white wine
1, 2 liters chicken stock
6-8 artichokes hearts, cooked and halved
40g grated Parmesan cheese
30-50g rocket leaves
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste


• Fry the onion and the garlic in some of the olive oil until translucent.

• Add the rice and fry for a minute more. (you’ll hear a crackling sound-this is the rice cracking)

• Add the wine and stir until it is all absorbed.

• Begin to add the warm stock, ladle, by ladle while stirring continuously. Keep adding more stock until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is cooked. This will take 20-30 minutes.

• Add the cheese to the risotto, some of the rocket leaves and the artichokes.

• Season the risotto with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

• Serve it topped with fresh rocket leaves, Parmesan shavings and a drizzle of olive oil.
Quick recipe ideas:Toss fresh tagliatelle pasta with artichokes, sun dried tomatoes and olive for a quick, delicious Mediterranean meal.

Blend cooked artichokes with kalamata olives to make a delicious tapenade with a difference to be served with brushetta.

Try artichoke hearts on pizza with spicy chorizo sausage.

No comments:

Post a Comment