This is another luscious artichoke recipe I discovered while staying in Rome (see my other recipe, Roman Artichokes with Mint Pesto here). There I ate this versatile preparation stirred into pasta, piled onto pizza, sandwiched between focaccia.
I use an app on my phone to record all the food I eat. I started it as an experiment, just to see what I was actually eating. It’s easy to convince yourself that you’re eating one way when you just look back through your memory and pick out all the best bits, but more difficult when you actually have to write everything down. The app also analyses various aspects of your vitamin and mineral intake which I find absolutely fascinating. Alarmingly, it has been insisting since I started using it that I am extremely low on potassium. And I wasn’t really sure what to do about this.
On my first day in Rome I tried some artichokes. From that day on I was hooked. I ate artichokes every day, in every preparation I could lay my hands on. At the pizzeria it was extremely difficult not to shovel their artichoke topping into my mouth every time I was anywhere near them. It is the absolutely unique, lightly metallic aftertaste of artichokes that I find so mouth-wateringly irresistible. What was that taste?
A little look on Google revealed it was the minerals that artichokes are packed full of – magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, and all-importantly… potassium! My body was insisting that I cram into it the very thing my diet has been lacking of late. Fascinating! (Although it could also have been that they tasted freakin’ delicious!)
I was lucky enough to have some artisan, new season, olive oil to drizzle over my artichokes. All five litres of it. My chef hosts in Rome very, very kindly allowed me to buy some of their restaurant stock. For only €10 – my bargain of the century. Well worth risking a fine in the airport for an overweight bag (thank you Norwegian for not charging me!).
New season olive oil is the first, fresh press of olive oil made at the beginning of the season in October or November. It is lightly grassy and a wonderful glowing green – the most flavourful and fragrant oil of the season. If you would like to know more about olive oil, I strongly suggest you check out this blog, Truth in Olive Oil. I only realised there was a ‘truth’ to be know about olive oil after reading Olives: The Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit, by Mort Rosenblum. T’was a fascinating book that delved deeply into the murky world of olive oil production in a pleasingly detailed and witty fashion. Who’d of thought an appraisal of the world of olive oil branding could be described as “witty”?
Anyway, this blog picks up where the book left off, publishing interesting reports on the various scams and controversies that swamp this life-giving oil. The blog’s last post was a thorough overview of the scientific evidence for and against the consumption of olive oil – interesting stuff.
In Rome, they absolutely doused everything in olive oil. They probably used about ten times as much as I typically would. And then when the dish was finished, they drizzled it with another load of olive oil just to make sure that everything was definitely covered in olive oil. But it was delicious.
So these two experiences have changed me. I am now throwing myself wholeheartedly behind olive oil. Butter is to be sidelined. Having five litres of it to hand helps.
I don’t think I can quite bring myself to eat jarred artichokes now. That faintly pickled flavour detracts too much from the delicate savoury of the artichokes, the thing that makes them truly worth the effort. But fresh artichokes are often thin on the ground here in the UK (although I did get some for only 50p each at my fantastic local Turkish shop this week). Has anyone had good experiences with frozen artichokes? How to they compare to the fresh ones? Could they be the answer to my new obsessive need for artichokes?
- 6 artichokes, trimmed (see guidelines here)
- 150ml extra virgin olive oil
- salt, to taste
- Roughly chop the artichokes and add straight into an oven-proof dish. Season with salt and drizzle over the olive oil. Toss to combine.
- Cover with tin foil and bake at 200c for about 45 minutes. The artichokes should be tender and fully cooked, with a little caramelisation in places.
- Use straight away or store in the fridge for up to a week, ready and waiting to enliven almost any meal.