Fresh artichokes are surprisingly easy to prepare. For instructions on how to do so, see here. See below for easy-to-follow recipes for roasted artichoke hearts with mushrooms, luscious artichoke mushroom lasagne, a twist on the classic carciofi alla romana and a delicate roasted artichoke and pea salad.
Roasted artichoke hearts with mushrooms, potatoes and olives
- Preheat oven to 200C. Chop the vegetables into large, evenly sized chunks: the baby potatoes in half or quarters (depending on size) and the artichoke hearts in half. Leave the mushrooms whole, slicing any larger ones in half.
- Thinly slice the bell peppers. Halve the olives and lightly crush the peeled garlic cloves with the side of a knife.
- Arrange everything into a baking dish. Sprinkle with good quality oregano or thyme and sea salt (preferably coarse). Drizzle generously with olive oil. Stir until everything (including the bottom of the dish) is evenly coated.
- Add a quarter-cup of water to the bottom of the baking dish.
- Cover and bake for 20-30 minutes, until vegetables are tender and browned. Stir once or twice while baking to ensure they don’t stick to the bottom.
- Once they’re just tender, uncover and roast for a further 5-10 minutes, until slightly crisp and burnished around the edges, but don’t let them become too dry — remove while still juicy. Serve immediately, drizzling any remaining juices over the top.
As often with roast vegetables, this is a very flexible recipe! Feel free to play around with different vegetables, dried or fresh herbs (try rosemary instead of oregano, for instance, or garnish with fresh herbs at the end), lemon or orange zest, etc. Pomegranate molasses (dibs romman) will add a sour-sweet note. Frozen artichokes hearts may be substituted (defrost before using), but preparing fresh artichokes is not difficult at all and well worth the extra effort.
Wiam El-Tamami is a writer, translator, traveler and vegetarian cook who loves to play things by nose and ear — in the kitchen as in life.
Artichoke mushroom lasagne
- Remove the outer leaves from the artichokes, remove the stems, and about two thirds of the length of the remaining leaves. Slice in half and put into a bowl of water. Add the lemon juice and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
- Slice the artichokes into thin slices, place in a saucepan with olive oil and whole garlic cloves. Pan fry for five to eight minutes, or until the garlic is blond, then remove. Finely chop the parsley and add.
- Finely chop the onions and sauté in olive oil separately. Add the chopped mushrooms, pan fry until sautéed. Add a few cherry tomatoes, then reduce the heat and cook for a further 10 minutes.
- Prepare a basic béchamel sauce. Instructions can be found online.
- Stir two or three tablespoons béchamel sauce into the artichokes and the mushrooms.
- In a rectangular baking dish, place two or three tablespoons of béchamel. Dip a lasagna sheet in a dish of milk, place it over the bottom béchamel layer, spread some artichokes on top, then béchamel, then mushrooms and cheese, then a lasagna sheet again, and repeat. For the top layer, after the béchamel add cheese, some mushrooms and sliced cherry tomatoes.
- Bake for 30- 40 minutes at 160C, then let rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Maria Luisa Vitobello is a keen cook from Milan currently in Cairo. Coming from one major artichoke-producing country to another, she couldn’t resist contributing a recipe for this article.
Carciofi alla romana with roasted baby potatoes
- Trim the artichokes of the coarse leaves and remove about two thirds of the length of the remaining leaves, so you are left with the lower succulent part of the leaves and part of the stem.
- In a small bowl, combine the parsley, mint, minced garlic, salt and one tablespoon of olive oil. Place one teaspoon of the herb mixture in the cavity of the artichoke.
- Arrange artichokes close together in a deep pan. Add the lemon juice, remaining oil and a pinch of salt.
- Cover and simmer for one hour.
- Serve hot or at room temperature with oven-roasted baby potatoes.
- Boil the potatoes for 10 minutes until tender.
- Cut each potato into quarters.
- Place in the preheated oven at 180C.
- Add a dash of olive oil and sprinkle salt.
- Roast for 10 minutes until crispy.
Hala Barakat is a trained botanist. Her interest in cooking combines her passion for vegetarian food with her knowledge of food heritage in Egypt and other countries and regions. Hala has established Rohana Green, a small-scale vegetarian catering and baking project, to serve her yoga students and friends.
Artichoke, buffalo mozzarella and pea salad
- Pre-heat your oven to 200C. Cut each artichoke heart in half (ideally having defrosted them in the fridge overnight). Place in a glass roasting dish and top with dried thyme, the juice of two of the lemons and a generous amount of salt flakes, along with a few glugs of oil. Leaving the garlic cloves in their skin, use the back of a knife to squash them, then add to the artichokes. Use your hands to massage the mixture into the artichokes until all sides are covered with oil.
- Roast for around 45 minutes to 1 hour until golden, shaking the pan once or twice during cooking. Remove and leave aside to cool.
- Wash the salad leaves, then spin in a salad spinner until dry. Make sure there is no water left on the leaves.
- Bring a small pot of water to the boil and add a pinch of salt flakes. Add peas to the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Drain the peas and then blanch by dropping them in a bowl of cold water and ice for 5 minutes.(This makes the peas crispy and brings out their flavor). Drain peas on kitchen paper until dry. Drain and wash cannellini beans and set aside to dry.
- Heat a frying pan on high for a minute, then had the pine nuts and immediately bring the heat down to low. Toast pine nuts for around 2 minutes, shaking the pan a few times until just golden. Don’t be tempted to walk away, as they burn easily.
- Dress salad leaves with more oil, the juice of the remaining lemons and salt flakes. Use your hands to make sure everything is well coated.
- Arrange the leaves on a large flat salad plate, then layer the cannellini beans over the leaves, followed by the artichokes and peas. Tear the mozzarella balls into pieces on top, then sprinkle on the pine nuts and basil. Drizzle over a little more olive oil before serving.
Maddison Sawle is a journalist obsessed with cooking since childhood. When not cooking for hungry friends, she can be found usually eating pasta or observing the plates of unassuming strangers.
Some history of the artichoke in Egypt
The name for artichoke in several languages comes from medieval Arabic al-kharshuuf, probably via late medieval Spain — carciofi in Italian and alcachofa in Spanish — reflecting how the plant spread from its area of origin: the Mediterranean and North Africa, where its progenitor still grows wild. The wild cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) was eaten by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and its domestication slowly gave rise to the artichoke as we know it today (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus).
The oldest record of artichoke seeds in Egypt comes from the Roman site of Mons Claudianus in Egypt’s eastern desert. Egypt is one of the top global producers of artichoke, along with Italy.
The artichoke head is technically the grouping of flowers (inflorescence) on top of the individual plants. Young artichokes can be eaten in their entirety, while the edible parts of more mature artichokes are the heart and flesh at the base of the petals.
Artichokes are rich in the antioxidant sylimarin, which is good for the liver in particular, stimulating cell regeneration and scavenging for free radicals. They also contain vitamins C, B9, K, sodium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and an appreciable percentage of protein and dietary fibers.
Information on the history of the artichoke contributed by Hala Barakat.