I have a kind of addiction for artichokes. I could have a meal with just artichokes, rustic bread dipped in olive oil whilst sipping a good Pinot Grigio to enhance the deep and gorgeous flavour of the artichokes.
A month ago whilst in Italy it was a joy to see that many vegetable market stalls in my local town were filled with artichokes of all size and shapes. Some were so full that artichokes would just roll onto the street.. ABUNDANCE. I love that.
Artichokes are often sold in a jar preserved in oil, it is not quite the same but they can be handy to add in rice salads, as pizza topping or just to add to green salads. It is convenient and cheaper if they are not grown locally and during the winter months I use them too. Fresh artichokes taste different though and it is worth trying them even if just once as a treat.
Before sharing my artichoke tart recipe in my next post I thought a tutorial on how to clean them would be useful.
It is straightforward, just make sure you wear a pair of gloves to protect your hands from turning black. Once you have cleaned the artichokes dip them in a bowl with water and lemon juice to avoid oxidation.
Fill a bowl with water and squeeze one lemon into it, you will need it for your cleaned artichokes. With a knife cut off the tip of the artichoke (about 2-3 cm)
Remove some of the outer leaves as they are the tough ones
Cut off the final part of the stem
From the remaining part of the stem slice off any spines and then with a paring knife remove the fibrous outer layer so you will get a stem that is very tender and flavorful.
Now open up the inner leaves
With a melon baller or with a spoon remove the "beard" of the artichoke which is inedible
Dip the cleaned artichoke into lemony water until it is time to cook it.
If you want to use your artichokes in salads, pasta dishes, risottos etc. you can cut them in half instead of leaving them whole.
In this case cut the artichoke in half and remove the beard with a small knife, cutting along the bottom of the artichoke.
Then cut it into quarters
To cook your artichokes you just need to boil them with lightly salted hot water for 10 minutes then drain. You can use them in many pasta dishes, omelettes, risottos, quiches, or in casseroles or add them to salad for extra flavour.