Artichokes

Raw Artichoke Salad

Trim and halve artichokes; remove chokes.

Using a mandoline, thinly slice artichoke hearts.

Toss artichoke slices with olive oil, lemon juice, shaved Parmesan, salt and pepper.

Fried Baby Artichokes

Trim and halve artichokes; soak in buttermilk. Dredge in mixture of equal parts plain flour and semolina.

In deep pan, heat 2.5 cm of canola oil to 190°C. Fry artichokes until crispy. Drain; serve with aioli.

Braised Artichokes

Trim and halve artichokes; remove chokes.

Cover bottom of baking dish with lemon slices; top with artichokes, salt and pepper. Add chicken stock or white wine to cover artichokes halfway. Cover with foil. Bake at 200°C until tender.

Artichoke Spread

Trim and halve artichokes; remove chokes. Simmer artichoke hearts until tender.

In food processor, combine artichokes, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and grated Parmesan; pulse until smooth.

Spread on toasted bread or sandwiches.

Baked Stuffed Artichokes

Trim artichokes; sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in baking dish.

Combine toasted breadcrumbs, chopped parsley, grated pecorino, olive oil, minced garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Stuff into centre of artichokes and between leaves.

Add 1/2 cup water to pan; cover with foil. Bake at 200°C until tender. Uncover; bake until browned.

Marinated Baby Artichokes

Trim and halve baby artichokes.

Blanch artichokes until tender. Drain well; cool to room temperature.

Place artichokes in jar. Add chopped fresh herbs, garlic, lemon zest and chilli flakes; cover with olive oil. Refrigerate and use within 1 week.

Availability

The primary artichoke season is in early spring.

Selecting

Buy artichokes that are heavy for their size. Look for tightly closed, olive green leaves and moist, healthy stems. A few purple streaks on the leaves are acceptable, but limp, brownish globes should be passed by. Baby artichokes should be olive green with tightly closed leaves.

Preparing

Use only stainless-steel knives and cookware when preparing artichokes, since carbon steel, aluminium and cast iron will discolour the vegetable within moments of cutting. No matter what you do, artichokes will darken somewhat, but fortunately, this discolouration does not affect their flavour. Starting at the base, pull off and discard the tough outer leaves until you reach the tender yellow inner leaves. Cut the stem off flush with the bottom of the leaves. Using a serrated knife, slice off the top 3-5 cm of the remaining leaves to remove the thorns. Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise through the centre. Using a teaspoon, scrape out the furry choke and drop the halves into a bowl of lemon water.

Storing

Sprinkle artichokes with a few drops of water and store in a perforated plastic bag in the coldest part of the refrigerator for up to 1 week. If cooking them on the day you buy them, leave them at cool room temperature. Once opened, marinated artichoke hearts will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.