Artichokes are actually a flower bud cut out just before blooming, no wonder why they look so much like a flower… There is so 140 varieties, from small purplish ones to those big round and heavy “globe” ones. In Spain, they grow all year long although there is a higher seasons which is spring and fall, you’ll see them in many restaurants, cut in half and cooked directly on the charcoal or they fry the leaves of the younger artichokes. All good stuff, but the way my dad showed me when I was a kid stays my favorite way. I simply vapor cook them and add a citrus butter sauce to it, to dip each leaf in, and then the “piece de consistence” the famous heart.
To recycle all those leftovers of leaves and the tails you cut out at first, you can make a nice soup with it. Just add all the leftovers to a big pot, than add water to cover, cook 20 min then blend and pass through sieve, reduce it with some aromatics and voila! Add maybe a little cream, broth of your choice. It’s a good way to recycle your artichokes.
Those vegetables are not so innocent, they are a big part of many stories throughout history… starting with a Aegean legend of the poor Cynara turned into an artichoke by Zeus, after he discovered his “lovely goddess” acting too human… The Greeks and Romans considered artichokes to be a delicacy and an aphrodisiac, also a way to secure for newborns to be boys… old times… The artichoke symbol is everywhere in history, even a popular ornament in architecture throughout the years. The name of artichoke comes from the Arabs, which probably means they cultivated the vegetable way back in time.
So let’s do this mystical veggie!
Artichoke with Citrus-basil sauce
- As many artichokes you want
- 2 tbsp salty butter
- 2 tbsp lime or lemon juice
- few leaves of fresh basil or thyme
- pepper, white preferably
- Cut the top part of each outside leaves with scissors
- Cut the top 1/3 of the artichoke with a knife, and the bottom of the stalk
- Soak in water to get rid of the impurities
- Add a little olive oil or butter in the center
- In a bain-marie pot add water to boil
- Add the artichokes, heads up in the baie-marie and cover
- Cook for 20-45 minutes depending on the size of your artichokes
- Before service melt the butter
- Add the lime juice, basil and pepper, mix
Voilà! Simply dip each leaf in the sauce before gently getting the meat from the bottom of each leaf with your teeth. At the end, when you reach the fur part, simply use a small spoon to take it off and then eat that delicious heart. Enjoy!