Whole Artichokes with Lemon Butter Sauce

 

My own home-grown and organically grown, artichoke drenched in Lemon Butter Sauce, with side dishes containing extra lemon butter for dipping the petals in, and a finger bowl with lemon juice and water to rinse buttery fingers.

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Here are my artichokes! Their colouring is so very pretty with shades of aubergine, green, and silvery white on the stem. Mum had the most perfectly colour-matched tray to place under the artichokes that complimented the natural colours beautifully. The tray was up-cycled by Mum, who found it at a garage sale, painted it and then stenciled on the flowers.

 

Last year I posted about my first artichoke harvest. The artichoke plant was slow to grow, took about 14 months to produce flower buds, and the width of its leaves took up 2 and a half meters of precious space in our small garden. It was so slow to produce anything edible, that I was wondering if we would ever get any artichokes off it, or whether it would just end up being ornamental and taking up a large portion of the garden. When it finally produced buds, they grew extremely fast, taking only 20 days to go from a small flower-bud node to a size ready for harvesting.

The artichoke plant looked lovely in the garden with its huge leaves, but after a storm, in which it took a battering from high winds, some of the large leaves snapped off and the rest were left tatty. After the artichoke had stopped producing, someone (who shall remain nameless), thought it took up too much space in our small garden, (the plant wasn’t “space efficient” he said), and hacked the artichoke back to ground level, which at the time I wasn’t very happy about.

Fortunately, this certain someone didn’t get as far as pulling the roots out of the ground, and happily it grew back for a second season and it is better, stronger, and more productive than last year. We harvested our first artichoke for this years season on 19th October, and the following weekend we had several more artichokes ready to harvest, (which are shown in the above photos). Two more artichoke buds have since appeared, making this a very good season.

Artichokes, to me, were a curious and mysterious vegetable, and I wasn’t sure which part of the artichoke was edible, let alone what was referred to as the ‘heart’ and what was the ‘choke’. Now I know that the flower buds are the edible part of the artichoke plant. The artichoke is related to the thistle, and if the buds are not picked, the artichoke will flower. The part called the ‘choke’ contains the immature florets of the flower in the centre of the bud and is not edible as it is dry and furry, and under this near the base of the stem is what is known as the artichoke ‘heart’, which is the prized fleshy part of the artichoke.

Now that I have that sorted, I prepare them as in the following recipe. The recipe is from Eat More Veg by Arthur Potts Dawson, who says that when he was a young child, his mother took him to a restaurant and ordered artichokes that were prepared with this lemon butter sauce. He says “I couldn’t believe it when this huge vegetable from another world arrived at the table”.

Artichokes taste like a sweet potato, and the following recipe is a lovely simple way to prepare them.

 

 

RECIPE: WHOLE ARTICHOKES WITH LEMON BUTTER SAUCE

 

Vegetarian | Serves 2

 

2 globe artichokes

50g butter

Juice of ½ a lemon

2 tbsp finely chopped chives

Salt and pepper

Lemon cheeks, to serve

 

  1. Trim off the top 5 cm of each artichoke, and the whole stalk. Make sure the artichokes can stand flat on their bases (for serving purposes later on). Tear off any loose or unnecessary petals around the base.
  2. Place the artichokes into a large pot of boiling water with 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook for about 20 minutes, depending on the size of the artichoke. To check they are ready, insert the tip of a knife into the base where the stalk used to be. The knife should go in with a slight bit of resistance, but not firmness. Another way to check is to try removing a petal, and if it comes off easily, the artichoke is ready.
  3. Prepare the lemon butter: melt the butter in a dish, whisk in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Add the chives.
  4. To serve, drain the artichokes fully (leave to drain upside down for a while), and then stand each one flat on its base. Spoon over some of the lemon butter sauce, then put the rest of it into ramekins, one for each artichoke. Also serve with a finger bowl of water and lemon juice to rinse buttery fingers in. Serve with lemon cheeks for squeezing more juice over artichokes. Lemon cheeks are easy to squeeze as they are cut from the rounded part of the lemon, sliced so that a little bit of the flesh remains and there are no pips to worry about.
  5. To eat, pull off each petal and dip the fleshy base into the lemon butter, and scrape off the flesh with teeth. As you get further into the centre of the artichoke, the petals get softer and sweeter, with more flesh to eat. The coveted ‘heart’ of the artichoke is the piece left when all the petals are removed and the fuzzy, or hairy ‘choke’ is scraped away.

 

 

Bibliography:

Eat More Veg

Arthur Potts Dawson

London : Mitchell Beazley, 2012.

ISBN: 9781845339005

 

 

I let one of the later artichoke buds from this plant flower. The bud opened in late December (in New Zealand) to produce a 16cm across flower with long strands of feathery purple stamens. It is a very pretty flower – and here it is:

 

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