The beauty of the artichoke is seemingly never-ending. It may vary in color from honeydew to olive tinged with violet and mulberry. Its shape fluctuates from that of a cone to a perfectly round globe. The first artichokes of the spring is often bound into bunches, still attached to its stem with long languid leaves. This vegetable makes for a perfect table setting when put in a glass jar or rustic vase. Given some time, it will eventually blossom only to reveal an intensely magenta thistle.
The best thing about the artichoke are its leaves, particularly when steamed with lemon and served warm in a bowl accompanied by extra virgin olive oil.
- two fresh globe artichokes
- two organic lemons
- a pinch of sea salt
- 90 grams of extra virgin olive oil
- one clove of fresh garlic
- six sprigs of flat leaf parsley
- a sprinkling of coarsely ground white pepper
Fill a large pan with water and put it on the stove to boil with a pinch of sea salt. Wash the organic lemons and cut them in half. Cut off the stem close to the base .* Trim the artichoke leaves with kitchen shears thus removing dried petals or thorns. Slice the globes open through the middle with a sharp knife. Pull away the inner purple leaves and scoop out the fuzzy center with a spoon until the smooth bottom is visible.
Squeeze the lemons over the scooped out globes, placing them cut side down in the pan boiling water. Add the lemons to the pan and simmer the artichokes 20-25 minutes until the bottoms are tender.
Meanwhile, wash the sprigs of flat leaf parsley and chop both the leaves as well as the stems fine with a sharp knife. Peel the garlic clove and cut it into slivers. Mix the garlic and parsley with extra virgin olive oil in a shallow bowl, adding a bit of sea salt if so desired.
Drain the artichokes in a colander and arrange them cut side up on a large platter, using the cooked lemon as decoration. Drizzle them with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and coarsely ground white pepper. Serve the artichokes at the kitchen table with the parsley and garlic oil.
Eat the artichokes by pulling the leaves one by one off the bottom, scraping the flesh with one’s teeth. The bottom may be cut into strips to be eaten on its own, as the prize it truly is.
♦ Suggested combinations
Serve yoghurt and dill with garlic along with a loaf of bread to go with the freshly cooked artichokes.
Prepare soft-boiled eggs and dip the artichoke petals into the warm yolks.
Make a simple tomato sauce with white wine and garlic and serve the artichokes filled with angel-haired pasta tossed with the red sauce.
* The stem of the artichoke may be eaten as well. Cut the woody end off and peel the threads surrounding the stem with a vegetable peeler . Cook the stems along with the whole artichoke until tender.