Adventures with Artichokes

5 May 2016

This week Knidos Cookery Club is attempting to tackle one of the most daunting vegetables out there – the globe artichoke. This enormous edible thistle with its armadillo-like outer leaves has always intrigued me – you never quite know what might be lurking inside the beast.

Known as enginar in Turkish, it is widely cultivated in the Aegean and Mediterranean regions. It is a measure of the regard that this vegetable is held in that it has its own international festival in Urla near Izmir, Turkey (this year’s has just gone – it was held from 28 April – 1 May).

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An artichoke plant in Turkey

On 1 May, Knidos Cookery Club donned its walking boots and joined the annual walk from Datça on the Mediterranean Sea to the shore of the Aegean Sea, north of the village of Kızlan. On the way a number of artichokes were spotted growing in people’s gardens.

On returning home, my aim was to try and serve up something close to a dish that is a staple of many home-cooking restaurants in Turkey – an artichoke bottom filled to the brim with mixed vegetables or, sometimes, broad beans, but after peeling away the outer leaves and the choke my specimen’s bottoms were found to be a bit lacking in the size department.

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The planned dish of broad beans, bakla in Turkish, overflowing from an abundant base had to be modified at the last moment and instead I settled on a salad of diced artichoke and broad beans in a lemony sauce, garnished with strips of avocado.

Broad beans appear around the same time as artichokes in the market in early spring and the two team together well, especially with the addition of a lemon or two. For an even greener salad, I picked up some ripe avocadoes in the market and topped the finished dish with a few slices of alligator pear.

The tough outer leaves can be eaten as well. After steaming for 30 minutes or so, the bottoms of the leaves reveal some tasty artichoke flesh that you can pull through you teeth to get at the goodness. Dipping them in melted butter with a dash of garlic makes them even more delicious.

Ingredients

Two medium sized globe artichokes

250 g fresh broad beans

Two spring onions

The juice of one lemon

One ripe avocado

Olive oil

Herbs and spices

Method

Wash the artichoke and cut away the stem. Steam it in a large pan for 30 minutes or so until the outer leaves are tender.

Peel the leaves away from the main body and save to eat as a starter, dipped in olive oil or melted butter.

Now remove the fibrous choke that surrounds the fleshy, edible part of our oversized thistle. You should be left with a concave disc of artichoke.

Place the artichoke in lemon juice to stop it discolouring.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the diced spring onion.

After a few minutes stir in the peeled broad beans and chunks of squeezed lemon and cover with a mix of water and the rest of your lemon juice and keep at a rolling boil for 30 minutes. Boil off as much liquid as you can to leave a runny, lemony sauce.

Chop up the artichoke and mix with the broad beans in the lemony sauce. Add fresh herbs such as mint and parsley and season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with thin strips of avocado and serve with a tomato and onion salad to contrast the vivid reds with the verdant greens of the artichoke medley.

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One thought on “Adventures with Artichokes

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