Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Artichokes may be the most striking features of summer - a powerful dome of a vegetable, a spiky crown with layer after layer of thick green armour - but most of us are too readily turned away by the thought that they are a hassle to cook.

The trimming, the scooping and de-choking; there's always one hairy fibre lurking in amongst those protective leaves. The boiling for a good half-an-hour. The pulling it apart. And then when you get to eating the rascal there's not even much flesh.

Ah - I see I've turned you off artichokes again.

But wait! There can be such joy in slovenly preparing a globe artichoke, much like scratching away for the meat in a crab claw or getting the goods from a pumpkin. Once you've done it, however much you've f'd and blinded, you know the result will be delicious.

Eating it, sucking at the green spades, reaches the meaning of less-is-more. The juicy muscle you pull from the stem with the back of your front teeth is like sipping the nectar from honeysuckle. A sweet surprise, not much of it, but you instantly pick up another. And that's when you find yourself thanking goodness artichokes have so many leaves.



1 globe artichoke (leaves tight to body indicate freshness)
1/2 lemon
100g/ dusting of plain flour
sunflower oil

for the aioli
4 small garlic cloves, crushed
juice of 1/4 lemon
pinch salt
2 free range egg yolks
approx. 350ml extra virgin olive oil

3 small anchovy fillets, roughly broken with fingers or fork

Slowly bring a deep pan of water to the boil.

Start trimming the outer leaves of the artichoke with scissors, cutting it at its roundest part. Do this 3/4 of the way up the artichoke, discarding the leaf tops.

With a sharp knife, cut the top from the artichoke. Pull away all the purple leaves inside until you reach fine, white hairs. Scoop the hairs out with a teaspoon. Stop when you reach flesh.

Trim the stem, leaving about 5 cm, and pull off the outer fibres. They should come away easily. If you are preparing more than one artichoke, have a bowl of water with a slice of lemon ready so you can keep the globe/s fresh. They will begin to brown otherwise.

Place 1/2 a lemon in the pan of boiling water with a touch of salt and lower in the whole artichoke. Boil for approx. 30 minutes or until it appears soft. Remove out of the water onto kitchen towel to lose excess moisture.

Meanwhile, prepare the aioli. In a small bowl add the crushed garlic, salt, lemon and egg yolks. Whisk gently, slowly adding the olive oil. Keep whisking until it thickens and and when ir resembles a good consistency for you, you can stop with the olive oil. I like my aioli quite loose - globulous mayo gives me the shivers. Taste it and see if it needs more salt, lemon juice, or garlic. This recipe is punchy.

Spoon the broken anchovy on top of the aioli. You can scoop it up with the artichoke leaves. (The best bit).

Pull apart the artichoke. This is easiest if you half or quarter it with a knife. Pull away the leaves and cut chunks from the heart (the most fleshy part of the globe). Dust the artichoke with flour - just a little it so it will crunch up slightly when you fry it.

Heat up a shallow frying pan with enough sunflower oil so that fills 1-2cm from the bottom of the pan. Set on a medium heat and WATCH! Oil can heat up very very quickly. As soon as you see a ripple in the oil or a few bubble forming on the bottom of the pan it will be extremely hot and ready to go. Gently lower in the dusted artichoke. It will bubble. Fry for approx. 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. When ready, lift with a slotted spoon onto kitchen towel and drain off the excess oil.

Arrange the deep fried artichoke pieces on a plate around the bowl of aioli. Dip. Dip dip dip.

Note: There will be bits you put in your mouth which won't chew up. Spit'em out and move onto the next bit.

I can promise you, this recipe makes the process very worthwhile. It's also amazing with ready prepared artichoke hearts, for a less-hassle recipe.

There's leftover aioli here, so I think I'll do the same for supper tomorrow...


  1. oooh I love an artichoke and that aioli sounds like the perfect bedfellow for it x

  2. It is so scrumptious. I am now relishing in the garlic aftermath. x

  3. If you don't catch them in time to eat them, artichokes are wonderful sitting in a bowl on the table showing off their punk purple hairdo. xx