Perfect for date night, summer lunches or as a starter to a dinner party with friends! Artichokes are delicious, sexy and cool. Originally people around the Mediterranean started to cook with artichokes, but nowadays it’s popular all over the world. Besides the taste (slightly bitter but yet elegant & full of flavour) artichokes are a source of antioxidants and are good for liver and gall bladder. They even sell pills with the extract of artichokes! But how to prepare this eatable bud of a flower yourself? I’ll explain to you today!
Did you know? If you let an artichoke bloom her colour is deep purple, and then becomes uneatable. You have to use artichokes in the kitchen before they start to bloom.
For 2, as a starter
2 big artichokes or 4 smaller ones, buy fresh and use the same day
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
6 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
10 small cornichons
10 pickled onions
1 handful of parsley, finely chopped
1 handful of chives, finely chopped
pepper and salt
other: wooden toothpicks
Cut away the stalk of the artichoke and take away the hard leaves around the stalk. Most of the time that are 4 to 5 leaves. Cut the lemon in slices (without the pits) and pierce a slice of lemon to each artichoke, with a wooden toothpick – to prevent the flower turning brown.
Place a pan of water on high fire and wait until the water boils. Place the artichokes inside the pan, let it boil for 35-45 minutes (depending on the size of the artichokes). Place a small plate on top of the artichokes to keep them under the water. Artichokes like to float and if they float too much above the water they stay too hard.
In the meanwhile prepare the sauce by mixing the mayonnaise, sour cream and mustard in a bowl. Finely chop the (drained) cornichons, pickled onions and the herbs. Mix all together and season with salt and pepper. The sauce must be fresh and tangy as an contrast to the creamy and slightly bitter artichoke.
The artichoke is cooked well enough when you can easily prick a fork in the bottom of the artichoke (underneath the lemon slice). Drain the artichokes and put them back in the pan – upside down-, in order to let go the excess water inside the leaves (you don’t want them to be too watery). You can even carefully place the empty pan over low heat to help this process a bit.
Serve the artichoke on a plate with a bowl of the sauce.
How to: eat an artichoke
For those who never eaten an artichoke before this could be quite a challenge, so I will explain as good as I can: You pick the outer leaves, one by one, and dip the bottoms into the sauce, with your teeth gentle nibble and scrape the flesh out of 1 bottom side of the artichoke and you throw the sharp leaves away. Continue doing so. At a certain point you come inside the heart of the artichokes. You know this because the leaves become smaller and less fleshy. Then remove the smallest leaves together with the choke gently with a fork; the choke is a tough fiber and not nice to eat. Now the best part is left: the artichoke heart. It’s the bottom of the artichoke, mostly used by professional chefs in restaurants as the only part they serve of an artichoke. But I find it just so much fun to have the whole artichoke experience at home. It’s a very social, sexy way of eating too! Enjoy!
The herby and creamy, little bit tangy sauce you make as a dip for your artichokes is my favourite! Also a great basic dip for crudités.