Artichokes: The Hidden Heart


TAWNYA MANION

GLobe artichokes in Valencia, Spain. Photo by Hans Hillewaert, via Wikimedia Commons.

GLobe artichokes in Valencia, Spain. Photo by Hans Hillewaert, via Wikimedia Commons.

There is something ritualistic about eating a freshly steamed artichoke, stripping away each leaf one by one to reveal a moist, delectable heart prized by man and woman alike. The Greeks associated the artichoke with the goddess Cynara. Legend has it that Zeus upon spotting the mortal, Cynara, fell in love. And so enthralled by her exquisiteness, he transformed her from a human to a supernatural. Cynara truly enjoyed living as a goddess on Mount Olympus; however, soon she began to miss her mother. As time passed, the goddess would furtively sneak back to the world of mortals to visit and reconnect with the family she gave up to receive godly status. When Zeus discovered she had broken her vow to stay on Mount Olympus, he became outraged and hurled Cynara back to earth to live forever as an artichoke. Did Zeus act out of covetousness in wanting to hide the exquisite deliciousness in the core of the artichoke?

Decidedly so, Zeus’s inspiration that obliged him to turn Cynara to an artichoke, also compelled him to make it quite a laborious task to get to the inner heart of the thistle. Thus, discouraging others from discovering its delectable choke. Whatever the reason, the perplexity of its appearance gives little clue of the delights that wait within this green delicacy. But luckily, the word has gotten out, and even a food novice is tempted to give this mouthwatering vegetable a try.

The task of preparing artichokes can be daunting and time consuming, but with a little practice the prep will come as second nature. Plus, the effort invested in the endeavor of preparing this wonderful delicacy is worth the time and energy it takes to create the plethora of recipes that call for the edible part of the thistle. Discover why Zeus, much like the marauder, who hides his riches in inconspicuous places, concealed the tenderness of Cynara’s love and beauty within the intimidating leaves.

An artichoke that is ready to cook. Photo by Keagiles, via Wikimedia Commons.

An artichoke that is ready to cook. Photo by Keagiles, via Wikimedia Commons.

Steamed Artichokes with Green Goddess Dipping Sauce

  • 4 artichokes
  • 1 gallon of water
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 bay leaf

Pour the gallon of water into a large pot and bring to a boil.

Add the pinch of salt, peppercorns, bay leaf, and garlic to the pot.

Trim the stems off of the artichokes so that they will sit flat on a plate. Snap off the tough outer leaves around the base, and trim the top third of each artichoke with a sharp knife or scissors.

Turn the artichokes upside down and smash with the palm of your hand so that the leaves open slightly.

Place the artichoke in the pot once the water begins to boil.

Steam the artichokes for 30 minutes depending on their size. Before straining the water from the artichokes, remove one thistle and see if you can easily pull a leaf off. If you can, then the artichokes are done and you can strain the water out of the pot

Serve with Green Goddess Dipping Sauce (recipe follows).

Green Goddess Dipping Sauce

  • 1 cup trimmed watercress springs
  • 1 cup pea shoots
  • 3 tbsp. minced chives
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 tbsp. champagne vinegar
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, made into a paste

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a food processor or blender; blend for a 30 seconds.

Add the next 5 ingredients and blend until the constituents form a dressing consistency. Scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

Season with salt and pepper

Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Serve in a beautiful bowl with steamed asparagus and other crudités.

An artichoke heart. Photo by DocteurCosmos, via Wikimedia Commons.

An artichoke heart. Photo by DocteurCosmos, via Wikimedia Commons.

 

 

 

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