As I am in Italy, I have been embracing the Italian cuisine and eating a great deal of pasta. Unfortunately though, this will have to stop if I ever hope to fit into my bikini and embrace the sun bathing the Riviera is equally as famous for…. So I have started looking for alternate options for lunch and one of those is the prickly, culinarily scary artichoke. I love artichokes, when the only fiddly bit is trying to get them out of a jar. But they are everywhere at the moment and I have been assured that the fiddly, spikey preparation is worth it in the end. And so, one lunch time I went down to the market, bought a couple of artichokes and decided to prepare them for lunch. Its actually a lot easier than it looks, and tastes far better than the pine cone it resembles (mmmm pine cones!).
Artichokes with garlic butter (I am not so much of a health freak that I would forgo lashings of butter….)
Two artichokes, two garlic cloves, butter, salt, black pepper, lemon, a pair of scissors
Chop the stems off the artichoke head, leaving enough to grip it by. Using the scissors snip the sharp pointy bits of the tips of the outer leaves. Chop off the top of the artichoke, maybe the top inch on one that is about four inches long.
Fill a pan with water and bring to the boil with a garlic clove, some salt and a slice of lemon. Add the artichokes when the water is boiling and cook until a knife will slide easily through the middle, about half an hour with big ones. You can steam them as well, it takes a bit longer but you don’t lose as many nutrients into the water apparently. Once cooked, turn them upside down on some kitchen paper and let the water drain out from between the leaves while you fry the other garlic clove, that’s been chopped into little tiny pieces, in butter. Put the garlic butter in a dish. To eat, tear the leaves from the artichoke and dip the little nub at the bottom in the garlic butter. Pull this bit through your teeth to strip the soft fleshy bit away. When you get down to the middle, scoop out the fluffy bit and you are left with the heart, which is the best bit (the bit normally preserved in oil and put in jars, mmmmm).
Warning: Do not eat this if you are expecting to pull…