Artichokes are a real b*tch in the vegetable world.
A lot of things aren’t worth their price at restaurants – porridge for instance, or scrambled eggs, or granola or in fact anything served at brunch. The raw ingredients + the skills required in preparing them do not justify the numbers on the menu. But artichokes – they’re expensive in restaurants for all the understandable reasons. First, you get a whole artichoke, that’s not cheap to begin with, and with a giant artichoke, the actual edble part is just 40%. Then the prepping of it is just soo labor-intensive. In all honesty, I don’t know what I hate more – paying for an expensive dish of artichokes at home, or spending a lot of money and time to cook artichokes myself.
Mussels are also priceworthy at a restaurant. Yes, they’re dirt cheap but who has the patience to clean each and every one of them?
So t it was my sister’s birthday and, being one of our favorite vegetables, I gladly made her artichokes. These are gently braised with some vegetables and white wine, topped with a strong dollop of pistou. It’s light, easy (once you get past the artichoke prep), and makes a more interesting vegan/vegetarian starter rather than just…pasta.
Recipe adapted from Saveur
4 globe artichokes
2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1/2 cup (120ml) extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced, plus 8 cloves, peeled & left whole
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 sprigs thyme|
3/4 (180ml) cup white wine
2 plum tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded, and roughly chopped
1 cup (150g) frozen peas, thawed
Cut the lemon in half, squeeze the juice of one half into a large bowl with 1L of water. and keep the other half.Prep the artichokes:
Snap back tough outer leaves until you begin to expose the yellow ones. Rub all cut surfaces with the other lemon half as you go. Do it with your fingers. Using a serrated knife, cut off the top third or so of the artichoke. Get your pairing knife and trim off the green outer skin around the base of the artichoke, including of the stem (you should leave about an inch of the stem). This should take off all the pointy ends and any remaining green, leaving behind only yellow leaves. Then cut it in half, and use a spoon to scoop out hthe fuzzy choke from the center of the artichoke. Put it in the bowl of lemon water and repeat with the other artichokes.Make the pistou:
Combine basil, 1/2 cup olive oil, the minced garlic and some salt and pepper to taste in a food processor and blitz till smooth.
Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the garlic slices, onion, thyme. Cover and cook, stirring occassionally until onions are soft. Drain the artichokes, and add to the pan along with the wine, tomatoes and 1/2 cup of water. Cook, covered, until artichokes are tender, about 25 minutes. Add the peas and cook for two minutes until warm.
Serve the artichokes with pistou and crusty bread.