Thistle make your mouth water – delicious artichokes

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Annie Bell, taken from The Modern Dairy by Annie Bell, published by Kyle Books.

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Lawrence gives some Mediterranean inspired ideas for making the most of artichokes.

As summer continues to be beautifully hot it’s not surprising that the global artichoke crop is thriving in the surrounding allotments.

This plant was cultivated from the thistle and is generally associated with the Mediterranean area. In Italy I have watched old ladies preparing huge piles of artichokes in the streets to be sold to the general public. The ladies made easy work of the vegetables – having years of experience – and I was able to pick up a few tips.

Most people tend to cook the globe whole, pulling out the leaves to eat the base or cutting the leaves and stem off completely leaving the heart to be steamed or boiled.

I prefer to use baby artichokes and cut away the outer leaves, peeling the stems before cutting them in half. I then remove the choke and cook them with vegetables in acidulated water.

The photograph with the artichokes on the yellow cloth shows the five stages of how to peel the vegetable. This method takes more time but like most things that take a little effort the end result is more rewarding.

Once cooked and cooled you can then decide what other flavours you want to introduce.

In the restaurant we put them in a salad with broad beans and anchovy but here I have followed the Mediterranean theme using a dressing of tomatoes and garlic to create a starter or salad to eat with your barbecue.

To find out more about Lawrence’s restaurant Fat Olives, visit fatolives.co.uk or call 01243 377 914.

Artichokes with

tomato and garlic

dressing

Ingredients (serves 4)

12 prepared baby artichokes

1 carrot peeled and chopped

1 onion diced

1 leek chopped

1 stick of celery chopped

3 cloves of garlic cut in half

8 peppercorns

1 bay leaf

Thyme

Water

Juice of one lemon

150 ml of olive oil

1 teaspoon of sea salt

Dressing

2 tomatoes peeled, deseeded and chopped

1 clove of garlic finely chopped

1 dessert spoon of oregano leaves

40ml of olive oil

10ml of water

5ml of white wine vinegar

Seasoning

Method

1. Put all the ingredients into a stainless steel saucepan.

2. Bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes.

3. Check the artichokes are cooked using a knife which should just go through the thickest part.

4. Allow to cool and pick out the artichokes.

5. To make the dressing whisk the oil, vinegar, water and garlic together.

6. Add the tomato and oregano.

7. Put the six halves of artichoke on a plate and spoon over the dressing to serve.