Simple globe artichokes
This is more a veg starter or preamble than a mezze-style dish, but we love globe artichokes so much that we want to encourage everyone to eat them. Preparing them can seem fiddly at first, but it’s actually pretty straightforward and they make one of the most enjoyable of all summer starters.
Remove the toughest leaves from close to the base of each artichoke and trim the stem to about 3cm long (or, on good-sized ones, remove the stem completely, so the artichoke will sit flat on its base).
Place in a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water with a squeeze of lemon juice, or in a steamer, and cook for 15–30 minutes, depending on size and freshness. Just-cut artichokes will need less cooking. If you grow your own, you’ll find that cooking them within minutes of cutting reduces the cooking time dramatically – to just 7–8 minutes for a small one. An artichoke is cooked when a leaf from the middle pulls away easily and the heart is tender when pierced with a knife.
To eat, pull off the outer leaves, dipping them in your chosen sauce and scraping away the tender part with your teeth. Work your way down to the tiny, papery leaves near the base, discarding these. Remove the hairy part of the choke with a spoon, then tuck into the delicious heart.
- Enjoy them simply, with melted butter and a squeeze of lemon to dip the leaves into.
- Make a cheaty hollandaise: melt 150g butter and whisk it, a little at a time, into an egg yolk until it has a loose consistency, like mayonnaise. Whisk in a generous squeeze of lemon juice and season with a pinch of salt and some pepper.
- Make a simple vinaigrette: put a crushed garlic clove, 1 teaspoon mustard, some salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar and 6 tablespoons olive or rapeseed oil in a screw-topped jar and shake to emulsify. Add 1 tablespoon finely chopped capers too, if you like.
- Try barbecued artichokes: boil or steam, as above, then slice them in half lengthways, tip to base. Brush with some olive oil and grill them, cut side down, on the barbecue for a couple of minutes. Eat each half as above, relishing that intense, smoky flavour.
- 6 medium/large globe artichokes
- A squeeze of lemon juice
- Sea salt
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Who needs meat? During the River Cottage Veg cookery course you'll learn to turn local, seasonal produce into delicious veggie dishes.