As a Polish, I’m no authority when it comes to artichokes. If you had given them to me some years ago, I wouldn’t even know where to start, thinking that they belong in a vase rather than on a plate. That’s why discovering the culinary side of artichokes was so much fun. I occasionally consumed them in the past couple of years, but I got a proper induction last year only when I travelled to Rome. The artichoke season was at its peak with carciofi being served in every place and form: deep-fried in Testaccio market, sauteed in virgin olive oil served over pasta in the Roman ghetto or stuffed with breadcrumbs and baked near the Colloseum. What a feast it was!
Fortunately, I’m currently living in a country that grows its own artichokes. And guess what: they’re gonna be around until June, the sad end of the artichoke season.
I got really lucky this week: Mujeb Organic Farm was kind enough to gift us a bag of fresh, tasty artichokes for which, both myself and Mike are very grateful! In our first attempt, we halved and baked them topped with a mix of breadcrumbs, crunchy almonds, lemon zest, some chilli and garlic. They turned out lovely. Our friend Angela also mentioned that her mum used to steam them. And you? What are some of your favourite ways to eat artichokes?
Oven-baked artichokes with a crunchy almond topping
15 minPrep Time
45 minCook Time
1 hrTotal Time
8 artichokes, trimmed and halved
juice of one lemon (to prevent them from going black!)
1 cup breadcrumbs
zest of 1 lemon
6 cloves of garlic
a heatproof dish filled with water (to keep the oven moist and prevent artichokes from getting too dry)
Preheat oven to 220 C.
As I had no previous experience with trimming the artichokes, I followed Jamie Oliver's instructions on how to peel them:'' To prepare the artichokes, simply trim 5cm below and above the base of the choke. Now what you need to do is trim back your artichoke leaves one by one, clicking them off until you get to the lovely paler yellow and more tender leaves. Using a pointed teaspoon, insert it right into the centre of the artichoke flower and slowly turn it to remove the fluffy choke. Have a little peer in and try to remove most of the choke. Rub the artichoke with lemon to stop it discolouring.''
Mash garlic, chilli, almonds and lemon zest using mortar and pestle. Afterwards, mix in the breadcrumbs and make sure that everything is nicely combined.
Cover artichokes with a layer of the breadcrumb mix and place in the oven.
Fill a heatproof dish with water and place under the baking tray to keep the oven moist and prevent the artichokes from getting dry.
Bake for about 45 minutes until the hearts are tender.