It’s been a little while between posts because we have been moving house. Project “Clean Out The Fridge, Freezer and Pantry” was initiated so we had less stuff to move which resulted in not very exciting cooking for a few weeks while we cleaned things out. The freezer was particularly full and one night when Stu was on his haunches foraging for dinner I heard exclamations and bags landing on the floor as he discovered my stash of parmesan rinds, herbs, spices, random pieces of bread, bread crumbs as well as quinces, mangoes and bananas. Rather than waste food I generally stick it in the freezer and I can usually find a use for it! Parmesan rinds go in soups, stews and pasta sauces. Woody herbs like thyme and rosemary and curry, bay and kaffir lime leaves all freeze really well. I also ferret away fruit that is poached (quinces) for easy desserts or past its best (mangoes and bananas) for smoothies. I also freeze “normal” stuff like meals for lunch or dinner which I never label so defrosting a UFO (unidentified frozen object) means we live on the edge.
I made this meal a little while ago and have been meaning to post it but moving got in the way. Mum left me some globe artichokes in a vase (quite a striking substitute for flowers!) and Stu wasn’t home so they made a perfect meal (+lunch) for one. Of course Plenty had the perfect recipe, so it was globe artichokes with crushed peas for my dinner. The original recipe calls for broad beans but I didn’t have any, and peas worked beautifully.
Fresh artichokes can be a little intimidating if you are used to purchasing the dainty variety in oil, but they are really quite easy to get to know. My tip is to remove more of the outer leaves than you think because you only eat the tender bits closest to the stem and choke (the furry white bit in the centre). My first memory of eating fresh artichokes was on our first family trip to Europe when I was about 16 years old. Mum bought kilos of artichokes because they were fresh and cheap and we ate the leaves dipped in butter, in our stone house at the top of a hill beneath a canopy of grape vines. Fresh artichokes are something special but you don’t need to leave them to the Spaniards.
- 250g shelled broad beans/peas (fresh or frozen)
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- black pepper
- 2-3 globe artichokes (depending on size)
- 2 lemons
- 1 egg, beaten
- 20g panko breadcrumbs
- 3 tbs chopped mint
- 2 tbs chopped dill
- Rice bran oil for frying
- Blanch the beans or peas in a saucepan of boiling water for about 3 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water and leave in the colander to dry. If using broad beans, remove the outer skins by pressing each bean gently between your thumb and forefinger. Discard the skins.
- Put the beans/peas into a food processor and add garlic, 4 tbs olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt and some black pepper. Roughly crush but don’t process into a puree. Set aside.
- To prepare the artichokes, cut off most of the stalk and pull off the tough outer leaves. Once you reach the softer, pale leaves take a sharp knife and trim off the top (slice across the middle) so you are left with the base only. Scrape the choke from the centre with a teaspoon. You can also cut it lengthways (which is what I did). Place the chokes in a bowl of water with the juice of a lemon to prevent them from going brown.
- Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and simmer the hearts for 7-10 minutes or until a knife pierces them easily. Drain well on a tea towel.
- When cool, place the artichoke hearts in a bowl with the beaten egg and mix well. Spread the breadcrumbs and 1 tsp salt on a plate and coat the artichokes well.
- Pour enough rice bran oil into a small saucepan to come up about 2cm up the side of the pan. Heat the oil until very hot and fry the artichokes gently for about 4 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain.
- Stir the chopped herbs and the juice of a lemon into the crushed beans/peas. Serve the artichokes and beans/peas on a plate and dream of Spain.