The first time I ever had an artichoke (outside of the jarred artichoke hearts) was in Turkey 4 years ago. Before that I had no idea how to prepare an artichoke, how to cut it, clean it, or even pick it! I knew the taste… But didn’t know it’s versatility or health benefits. Man, was I missing out!
Did you know you can make an artichoke tea from the discarded outer leaves (after drying), and that it’s good for your liver? What a great way to reduce waste when making an artichoke dish (hint hint wink wink)!
When it comes to picking an artichoke I’m still a bit of a novice. However, there are a few things I know for sure!
1. A closed artichoke is a fresh artichoke– Much like a flower, a new bud is fresher than an open flower. Pick an artichoke thats leaves are tightly closed.
2. Spikey plants are old plants– You will notice on the tips of the artichoke leaves are tiny thorns. These get thicker and harder as the plant ages. Look for soft and flexible spikes, indicating a fresher plant.
3.Check the cut– No, I don’t mean a cut like meat… I mean where the artichoke was cut from the plant. If it is very brown it was cut a long time ago. If it is just starting to brown but mostly green, it’s fresh.
Although this sign of freshness is a little late for the consumer… The center fuzzies in the artichoke turn purple as it ages.
5 Artichokes, cut into 6ths and cleaned
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 small potatoes, diced
1.5 lemon’s juice
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
4 heaping tbsp flour
Salt and citric acid (for wash)
4 tbsp olive oil, approx.
2 tbsp fresh diced dill
1/2c fresh peas or bakla (optional)
1 ego’s yolk
1. Prepare a salty/sour water bath for your artichokes. Cut the ends (about 1 inch from the top), so that no tips remain and you can see inside the artichoke. Also cut off the stems (do not discard). Remove a few layers of outer leaves to neaten the appearance. Cut the artichoke in half and dunk it in the wash. Scoop out the furry center until only the heard heart remains. Let sit in the wash until all are cleaned. Also, clean the outer portions of the stems until only the pale yellow center remains. Cut into small pieces (about in inch) and add to the wash. Once they are all halved and clean, add 3tbsp flour to the wash. Mix well and let sit while you prepare the rest.
2. Cut the onions, carrots, and potatoes. Put the onions and potatoes in olive oil in a wide, short pot with a lid. Begin to cook them until soft on medium high.
3. Cut the artichoke halves into thirds (making 1 artichoke head into 6 pieces). Add to the pot along with the trimmed stems. Squeeze 1 lemon over the top of the artichoke, sprinkle the sugar and salt, then stir well.
4. Add the potato and (optional bakla or peas) stir again. Let the veggies cook in their own juices, stirring occasionally. Finally, pour hot water over the mixture until the tops are just sticking out, do not submerge! Cover and let cook on low (boiling) for about an hour or until everything is soft.
5. Temper the remaining 1 tbsp flour with a little cool water and the water from the artichoke to make a slurry. Mix into the pot and allow to boil lightly until thickened.
6. Whip the juice of 1 lemon with the yolk of 1 egg. Mix in hot juice from the food until the egg begins to cook. Pour over the top of the artichoke mixture and gently press into the hot liquid with a spoon, but don’t mix!
7. Sprinkle dill over the mixture and cover. Turn off the stove (but do not remove from the heat!) and let sit for at least 15 minutes.