The globe artichoke is for me the queen of vegetables. It can be eaten raw when its heart is sliced thinly into salads or cooked in casseroles or omelets or stuffed. Artichokes also signify spring as they start to appear in the markets in March. Historically the artichoke which is a cultivated variety of the cardoon was developed in fifteenth century Italy and soon spread to Greece and the other countries around the Mediterranean.
Before use the inedible hairy choke lying just above the heart needs to be removed. However very young artichokes sometimes have little or no developed choke and may be cooked and eaten whole. The artichoke discolours readily so needs to be immersed in acidulated water or brushed with lemon juice after preparation. Artichokes are a good source of Vitamin A folate potassium and calcium.
how do i prepare and cook it?
Most asparagus just needs to be trimmed of the woody ends at the base of the stems. The older stuff may need a bit of peeling using a swivel peeler.
Asparagus cooks in less time than
you’d imagine Medium width stems
need only 3 to 4 minutes in lots of rapidly boiling salted water; fat stems may need a minute or two more; whereas the plump white variety needs a good 10 to 12 minutes (the latter shouldn’t be at all al dente but suggestively floppy). Test it with the point of a knife. The thin wildlooking stuff (sprue) or the supermarket packages of slender tips only need a minute or so if you want to keep some crunch. If you’re not eating the spears straight away. plunge them into cold water after cooking to keep them looking ultra green. Steaming is another option as is chargrilling on the barbecue. Small young spears can be stir fried.
What about the fancy asparagus pan?
Forget it. It’s only good for cooking the stout stuff. Anything wispy will slip through the mesh and slither all over the floor when the basket is pulled out.
What’s the simplest thing that i can do with asparagus.
Serve it with a pool of melted butter. If you want you can clarify the butter by allowing it to stand after melting then pouring the clear liquid into a clean pan. leaving behind the milk solids at the bottom. Reheat before serving.
You could also flavour the butter. For lemon grass butter finely shred two stems of lemon grass and gently warm through with the melted butter for about 10 minutes. A little bit of chopped chilli and a splash of soy sauce could be added on serving up if you want to take it further. Alternatively flavour the
butter with crushed garlic or a few chopped herbs.