Artichoke is a winter vegetable of the Mediterranean diet and is known for its health. However, what we are more interested in here is their culinary virtues. Their slightly bitter nutty flavor makes them delicious and special.
Their appearance is also very special. At first, artichokes may confuse inexperienced non-Mediterranean home cooks.
To be honest, I remember one time I was bored with the artichokes I saw in the Ghent food store. They look completely uneatable to me. They are large, brownish-green, with open leaves, hollow to the touch, and dry as if they had been exposed to the desert sun for several weeks. Now you know what artichokes shouldn’t be like when they are purchased.
You can hardly call these Belgian artichokes flowers. Indeed, flowers are what we eat. They are the edible part of the artichoke plant, or more precisely, the unopened flower heads of this mysterious thistle plant.
Let us clarify some things. When buying artichokes, choose artichokes that are compact and packed. The leaves should be closed, otherwise they are too old to cook any decent Mediterranean dishes based on artichokes. It’s no big deal that the outer leaves darken slightly, but it can only accept a little. Artichokes should not feel too light in your hand; this is another sign that they were harvested a long time ago.
Artichokes in a Mediterranean landscape
Artichokes are native to the Mediterranean Basin. Every spring, they bloom deep blue and purple in the Mediterranean fields. As my readers know, green and purple artichokes are used together with wild asparagus and mushrooms in various dishes that connect us to Mediterranean cuisine and are understood as landscapes in a pan, Catalan cuisine motto And the motto of my website.
In my hometown of Catalonia, Mediterranean, we like these three plant foods very much, and there are many traditional dishes that use them. I don’t know about wild mushrooms, but artichokes and asparagus are considered aphrodisiacs, which makes artichokes more attractive.
Now you can find acceptable artichokes throughout the winter, but their best time is in spring. In the northern Mediterranean, artichokes are harvested between February and March. In the southern Mediterranean, the harvest lasts longer, starting in December or even November.
Some dietary ideas for artichokes
Simply boil them in water with a little salt and a little vinegar is the fastest and easiest way. In this case, do not use aluminum pans or iron pans, as they will turn into an unsightly dark color.
You can fry them, stuff them with rice or shrimp, grill them, and then bake them in the oven. For those who like to eat raw vegetables, some varieties of small purple artichokes from the heart leaf can be eaten raw in salads.
One recipe that I think is particularly delicious is artichoke rice. Their slightly bitter taste and the sweetness of rice form an amazing contrast. Artichoke omelet is another great culinary idea. In some coastal areas and champagne producing areas south of Barcelona, it is usually accompanied by an excellent traditional salad dish called xato.
Paired with chicken or rabbit meat, artichokes are also extraordinary. If you like to blacken the paella rice, you can add some artichokes and broad beans to it. But the simplicity of grilling artichokes in the open air is unparalleled. This is an open-air celebration and another excuse for “barbecuing” with friends, as they said in the Catalan region around the Ebre (Ebro) River, about 125 miles (200 km) south of Barcelona Like that.
Season the whole artichokes with extra virgin olive oil and some salt, then place them on the grill. Traditionally, when you are busy eating barbecue, artichokes are roasting. When you are done, pull out the charred leaves on the outside and eat the tender and delicious heart, the olive oil has been concentrated.
This is another simple dish with artichokes suitable for outdoor preparation: try your best to obtain heirloom purple artichokes, pluck a few outer leaves, cut the artichokes in half lengthwise, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle them on Some salt, then grill. Bake two slices of country-style bread with roasted artichokes in between. You won’t believe how delicious it is until you try it.
Disadvantages of artichokes
The sommelier found the artichokes very frustrating. The taste of artichokes is so persistent that it stays in the mouth for a long time, so that you can’t find a wine that suits you.
I admit that whenever I eat roasted artichokes, I commit a crime. I pair them with strong red wines like Priorat or unpretentious house red wines, even though I know this violates the rules of wine connoisseurs. But this is what people do before the sommelier expresses his opinion, so… there is no shortcoming of artichoke after all.