The weather being the best conversation starter there is, let me just tell you that I have nothing but complaints on it. It’s been a continuation of winter for about as long as spring has officially started.
As much as we WANT to buy spring fare, what I really want to EAT are stews and roasts and real mac’n’cheese.
The produce vendors however, are plowing on and trying to convince us of the season by offering asparagus, rhubarb and (globe) artichokes. And because I am a sucker for marketing, i fell into their terrible ploy (for the third time, might I add!), caved and bought artichokes.
As a child I have never been incredibly fond of artichokes, and a bout of stomach flu a few years back left a truly terrible memory involving the lovely thistle hearts(variation, a pseudo-writers best friend!) paired with spaghetti, and I will leave the rest to your imagination. I mainly got them at the markthalle because my toddler boy is absolutely in love with dipping. Dipping for him, is food at it’s funnest (as opposed to funnIEST). i figured therefore, that artichokes (how many times will I type artichokes in this post, hmm? well, better read on and count!) were a nice change and a bit of fun for the rainy dinners.
The artichokes were steamed and I served them with two dips: a variation on the classic italian salsa verde – a green sauce (my linguistics skills are unparalleled) made with fresh herbs, capers and anchovies – for the husband and me, and a surefire winner for all of us, which is a tahini-yoghurt sauce spiced with ras-el-hanout (a very fragrant north african spice/herb mix including cumin, fenugreek, coriander and mild chili, to name a few).
Artichokes with Double Dip
prep time: 5 min/dip and 40 min total for the artichokes
For the Artichokes
count one artichoke per person
pot with a steamer inlay or a pressure cooker fitted with a steamer inside.
Cut of the long Stem of the artichokes to about 1/2 cm of the globe. Chop pf the tips of leaves with scissors or simply cut a couple of cms of the top. Place in a bowl of cold water with a splash of lemon to prevent them from turning black.
When you are ready to cook, place the artichokes ionside the steamer basket and steam them for about 15-20 min or until tender. Reduce the cooking time appropriately if you are steaming them in a pressure cooker ( my guess would be about 10 min after the cooker is starting to vent steam)
Serve the artichokes hot or cold. to eat, pull out the leaves and dip them into a classic vinaigrette, or even just olive oil and lemon or this, or whatever else you like. To eat the artichoke heart, pull or cut out the hairy fuzzy part, the heart is what lies underneath.
For the Salsa Verde
4 tbsp olive oil or more
1 tbsp basil
1 tbsp mint
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley
1 tbsp cilantro (optional)
1 tbsp capers (either salted or brined, be sure to rinse the salted ones well!)
3-4 anchovies, packed in oil or salt (again, if salted, make sure to rinse them well)
splash of lemon juice, or more to taste
Put all the ingredients in a food processor and whizz together until it all comes together. Alternately, you can chopp up the herbs, capers and anchovies finely and blend with the lemon juice and the olive oil. Your sauce needs to look green, and solid, between a vinaigrette and a pesto.
For the Yoghurt-Tahini Sauce
1 tbsp tahini (sesame butter)
1/2 cup of yoghurt
juice of one lime/lemon
1 tsp mint
1 tsp ras-el-hanout
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together all the ingredients and let stand for a little while. The tahini will cause the sauce to thicken slightly. If you find it a little to runny, add some more of the sesame butter.
Both sauces/dips will keep covered in the fridge for a few days, but make sure to check because mint can sometimes cause dishes to go bad quickly.