Whole, braised artichokes, steamed in mint pesto with lashings of fruity olive oil. The flavour is herbal and delicately metallic, the texture meltingly soft and silky.
A true delicacy of Rome, Italy.
Serves 4 (starter/side)
Prep/cook time: 30 minutes, plus 30 minutes cook time
- 4 globe artichokes
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 lemon, juice only
- 1 large bunch fresh mint, leaves only
- 80ml olive oil
- 50ml dry white wine
Technique: It's really hard to get good globe artichokes in the UK, when you see them, snap them up. They should feel heavy and very firm when squeezed – if they are soft and light, they have dried out and should be avoided. Purple Roman artichokes do not need much trimming and you do not need to remove the choke.
- Crush the garlic into a small bowl and squeeze over the lemon. Set aside for 20 minutes.
Technique: Steeping the fresh garlic in an acid (like lemon juice) effectively 'cooks' the garlic, similar to the treatment of fish in ceviche. This dramatically improves the flavour of raw garlic, removing its harsh bite. I use this technique every time I use raw garlic.
- Trim the artichokes.
Technique: Slice off the top 2cm and pull off all the tough outer leaves. Cut away the green skin around the base of the artichoke and peel the stem (don't remove the stem, it's tender and delicious). If you are using large, green globe artichokes, gently open the top of the artichoke and scoop out the choke with a spoon. Store the trimmed artichokes in acidulated water (use lemon or citric acid) to stop them browning while you prepare the rest of the artichokes.
- Blend the garlic-lemon mixture, mint leaves and about 80ml olive oil to make a glossy purée. Season the pesto well with salt – it will also be seasoning the artichokes.
- Loosen the leaves of the artichokes with a teaspoon to make room for the pesto and stuff about half of it between the leaves. Reserve the other half.
- Add the remaining 60ml olive oil to a large, lidded pan and heat gently over medium-low heat. Add the artichokes flower-side down and drizzle over half the reserved pesto (the final quarter will be added after cooking). Cover tightly with tin foil and the lid. Cook for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cook for a further 20 minutes.
- Carefully remove the lid and tin foil, avoiding the hot steam. Check the artichokes are completely softened and tender by sliding a knife inside and by trying an outer leaf.
- Use a metal spatula to carefully transfer the artichokes to a serving dish or individual plates and drizzle over the remaining pesto. Take care when moving the cooked artichokes as they are very soft and could break apart.
My most delicious things
Food membership community dedicated to deliciousness
No spam, only food. Unsubscribe anytime.
- Serve as an elegant first course for a celebration dinner.
- Chop up and stir through pasta, polenta or risotto.
- Smear onto sourdough toast.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- You can use a mix of mint, flat leaf parsley and oregano to make the pesto.
food styling tips
Reserving some of the bright green pesto helps boost the colour of the final dish (as the pesto darkens when cooked). Garnish with more fresh mint leaves and a drizzle of fresh olive oil.