Artichokes can flummox the inexperienced cook because they require quite a lot of prepping.
The first thing that surprises is the amount of artichoke that is simply discarded because basically it is unfit for mastication — but once one gets over the shock it all boils down to a bit of patience and a good, sharp knife.
I have peeled back one of the artichoke leaves to show the part that is good and eminently masticable … which is a lighter shade … the darker bits towards the points are the obnoxious extremities of the leaf.
And now I can get started with the knife. Hold it at an oblique slant and cut from top to bottom … that way the artichoke gets ‘tapered’.
See what I mean about tapered?
And now, using another knife because I personally find it easier, I am peeling away the top end of the artichoke … this is very easy.
Here is the artichoke all prepped and trimmed. The stem of the artichoke is actually the tenderest part — you can see 4 of them at the back of the photo, corrisponding to 4 artichokes that I am peeling. I peeled them last and cut them into thick slices.
Artichokes that have been thus peeled are very susceptible to turn black on account of oxidisation. The answer is to plop them into a bowl with cold water and lemon juice in it (or else very very sparkling water) until you need to deal with them in person again. On this occasion, there was no need for me to place the trimmed artichokes in lemony water.
Now. I cut each artichoke into four parts. Please pardon the state of my nails which look grimey but which are actually stained by the artichoke. Some ladies will don plastic gloves for this job but they don’t agree with me. I’ll wash my hands later and use some lemon juice to revert my nails to a nice hue!
Using the little knife, I remove the ‘hairy’ part of the artichoke.
My finger is resting on part of an artichoke that used to be ‘hairy’. You can see a little cavity. Okay: now the artichoke is completely edible. So much so that one could slice it very thinly … add shavings of parmesan cheese and olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper … and one could have a lovely salad. But other plans are afoot …
The artichokes are sliced into fairly thin ‘strips’ and sautéeed in olive oil.
Salt and pepper is added … and after about 15 minutes on a medium heat, they are ready to be enjoyed. Some parts of the arthokes will go crispy which is nice …
And it just so happened that I had some leftovers of the pumpkin soufflé I had made the previous day. So I got hold of a very small glass (a cookie cutter would have been more useful but mine was playing hide-and-seek with me) and pressed hard with the rim to cut ’rounds’ of the pumpkin soufflé (which was now at room temperature). I placed the rounds in the middle of the Bella Frutta oval serving dish and spread the artichokes all around.
Nice combination, what do you think?