If you have never eaten a whole artichoke before let me tell you about this very satisfying experience. You buy the artichoke which is hard and spiny like a giant pine cone meets acorn. All that is needed to prepare it is a couple of inches of boiling water in a large pan, then simply
settle the artichoke inside and leave to boil and steam for about 30 minutes…
Once you have removed it from the pan you begin by peeling off the first petal, most of it is indelible but at its base you will find a small soft chunk of artichoke which you then dip in melted butter and scrape into you mouth using your teeth. The next petal follows the same process and bit by bit as you work your way around the plant you will become hungrier and hungrier for the delicious artichoke – only able to eat a small morsel at a time from each petal. As you continue the petals gradually become smaller, softer and hot to touch but you carry on and continue peeling, dipping and eating anticipating the centre. Once you have peeled and eaten all of the petals you will be left with a chunk of artichoke covered in pale yellow downy fur. This is the choke and must not be eaten. Carefully scraping this away will reveal the prize you were waiting for, a tender heart of artichoke.
I always think of eating a whole artichoke as a treat, not because it is unhealthy or expensive but because of this time consuming process which encourages savouring each bite – it seems like a special ritual. I don’t often use artichokes in my normal cooking though so I decided to make this simple pasta dish which uses the jarred variety. Hope you enjoy this recipe and I encourage you to take a bit of “me” time and spend it eating an artichoke!