I’ve mentioned Blenderman, one of my flatmates, a number of times now, but there’s three of us in the house here. The flatmate that so far has been referred to as ‘my other flatmate’ is actually quite an interesting character. It’s about time I introduced her to you.
My other flatmate is affectionately known as ‘La Regina delle Serate’, or the Queen of the Nights Out. She has this incredible innate ability to have an amazing time, all the time. The way she enjoys a party is something I’ve not witnessed often in other people. She’ll be out most nights of the week, always looking sharp as a razor – dressed like a lady, but drinking like a Russian mariner. Then she’ll just sleep and take it easy for half the day, after which she’ll head off to do rather well in uni. She is the person who has proven the college triangle to be wrong – she has a social life, gets enough sleep AND good grades.
Sometimes all the partying gets too much. Sometimes she’ll come back from a weekend of heavy boozing somewhere, declaring “THIS WEEK IS HEALTH WEEK!”. In health weeks we eat the strangest things! She’ll come home from the market with all sorts of fascinating products that I’ve never seen before. Odd seeds like chia, which tastes of nothing but turns water into gel. Lots of grains, like miglio, or millet, which she says is birdseed but which is also suitable for people and actually surprisingly delicious. Her favourite health week vegetables, or actually her favourite vegetables in general, are artichokes. And they’re one of my favourites now, too.
Artichokes are super healthy, full of fibre and iron or something, and they’re delicious, with a sort of sweet, but also smoky flavour. They’re a bit of a bitch to clean, but I took pictures to show you how. And then after that you can fry them with some white wine and it’ll be delicious.
So as a side, count 2 to 3 artichokes per person. Apart from that you’ll need:
- olive oil
- a clove of garlic, crushed
- half a glass of white wine
- some salt
So the recipe is dead easy this time, the difficult part is cleaning the artichokes. Also, for some reason your hands turn black when you touch raw artichokes. Something or other in them oxidises and gives you funny fingers, and it doesn’t wash off very well. If you’re OK with that, carry on. If not, rub your hands with lemon before you start.
OK, so start by cutting off the top centimetre of the bulb so that it looks like in the first picture above. The leaves are quite thorny on top so you want to cut that stuff away. Then peel off the outer leaves – they’re usually quite chewy and stringy. After you do that, use a paring knife (or just any smaller kitchen knife) to peel off any remains of the outer leaves you just took off, and the stems – you can eat the stems, but you’ll have to remove any leaves that are still stuck on there, and the outer layer, which is usually kinda hard.
When they’re peeled, take off the stems and quarter the artichokes.
On the inside, they’re sort of fuzzy. You want to remove the little hairs, and some of the inner leaves as well, as they’ll still have the little thorns on. Use the same knife as before, put it behind the leaves you want to remove, and then cut down and outward so you get the leaves and the fuzzy bit in one motion. After that, chuck them in a bowl of water to remove the last bits of fuzzy.
Now you can cut them in smaller parts, maybe halving each quarter and halving the stems as well.
Then heat some oil in a frying pan. Crush the garlic and add it to the pan. Fry until fragrant, then add the artichokes. Once they’re starting to go quite fragrant and hot, add a good splash of white wine. Bonus points if you manage to set it on fire – I did, unplannedly, and it was absolutely delicious. Wine is not meant to flambé though, so this really might not work.
Anyway, let the wine reduce a little bit, sprinkle some black pepper over the artichokes, then serve! Delicious business. I had mine with some delicious toma cheese, but I’m sure they’d go very well with meat, too.