Emilia Strazzanti, Strazzanti
“Our nonna always cooked her artichokes one way and they were delicious. Clean the artichokes by removing the toughest outer leaves. Wash well under cold water and leave to one side. In the meantime, take a deep saucepan and fill it a quarter of the way up with water and add half a lemon. Bring to the boil. Chop ½ clove of garlic for each artichoke and mix together with 1 tsp of dried oregano and 2 tbsp of finely chopped sundried tomatoes – to make it extra special we use capuliatu, which is a minced sun-dried tomato marinated in extra virgin olive oil. Flare open the leaves of the artichoke and generously stuff each layer with the garlic, oregano and tomato mix. Place the artichokes inside the pan, making sure the water reaches the artichoke half-way up. Place a lid on and simmer on a low heat for around 40 minutes or until the artichokes are tender. Eat each artichoke leaf individually, scraping the flesh and marinade off, then delve into the hidden tender heart at the end, making sure to spoon away the choke (the white centre) before you do.”
Alberto Manso Miras, Tickets, Barcelona
“There are infinite varieties of artichoke, but my favourite is El Prat, which is found in Catalonia, Spain. The region’s mild climate – thanks to the protection of the mountains and the proximity of the sea – makes these artichokes sweeter and more tender. There are a few things to consider when prepping artichoke. When you cut into one, the phenolic substances in the vegetable react with the oxygen in the air, meaning dark spots will quickly appear because of the oxidisation. To avoid this, prepare a bowl of water with a few drops of lemon in, and drop the leaves into the water as soon as you cut into them off – the citric acid in the lemon will stop the oxidation process. My favourite way to cook artichokes is to simply remove the outer leaves and a little from the tip of the artichoke. Cut into thin slices and fry at 180°C until crisp. Drain on kitchen paper, finish with salt and pepper and accompany them with a sauce such as tzatziki. I also love to cook artichokes on a BBQ because of the incredible toasted and smoked flavour they absorb. I have two tips for this method: first, you need to cook them slowly for around 45 minutes. And before you put them on the heat, crush them in your hands to loosen up the leaves, which allows the smoke to permeate the artichoke. In Spain we would serve these with romesco sauce.”
Zoe Simons, Waitrose
“If you don’t have time to prepare a fresh artichoke, our Essential Waitrose la dora artichoke hearts are a great alternative – they are so versatile and can be eaten hot or cold. They’re absolutely delicious served simply in a salad but if you blitz them up with some parmesan and fresh parsley, you have a quick and flavoursome pesto to spread on top of chicken or stirred through spaghetti."