Perhaps they’re not as widely used as they should be due to unfamiliar preparation methods but fresh artichokes would have to be the prettiest looking vegetables out there. Most of us would have eaten artichoke hearts from a jar but it’s a real treat to eat and cook with fresh artichokes when they’re in season. They have a slightly meaty texture and taste like a mix between asparagus and maybe peas, however if not fresh, artichokes tend to get a little bitter.
Fresh artichoke can be eaten in many ways – its leaves and hearts can be dipped in butter or olive oil, the whole asparagus can be stuffed and baked, or the hearts can be grilled or deep-fried, which is a Jewish way of cooking them. You can also toss steamed or canned artichokes through salads, egg omelettes or serve them are part of an antipasto platter. I really like to use artichokes to make this velvety, buttery pesto. You can use it as a dip, toss it through thinly sliced zucchini or steamed vegetables or as a side condiment with meat and fish dishes.
Cooking notes: Fresh artichokes are in season in spring in both Australia and the northern hemisphere (that’s right now for us Aussie folks). You will need to peel and steam artichokes before making this recipe. You can see how to prepare fresh artichokes in this video. Feel free to use artichoke hearts that have been marinated or preserved in olive oil, you should be able to get some good quality ones from your local deli. The fresh artichokes will taste slightly more subtle than the marinated ones, so adjust the acidity and salt by either reducing or increasing the amount of lemon juice and sea salt. To prevent any discolouring, place artichokes in water with a little vinegar or lemon juice as soon as you peel them.
- 400gm artichokes hearts cut in half (about 6-8 medium hearts or 1 can of artichoke hearts; if using marinated or canned artichokes make sure to rinse them well before blending)
- 1/2 cup cashew nuts (walnuts or pinenuts will work as well)
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2/3 tsp sea salt
- Optional 1/4 cup Pecorino (hard aged goat’s cheese)
- Extra olive oil for sealing the top
- Peel all outer leaves from the fresh artichokes and cut the hearts in half. See video instructions in the cooking notes. Steam or boil artichoke hearts until tender, about 20-25 minutes.
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer to a clean container and seal with a layer of olive oil. Keep air-tight in the fridge for up to a week.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Number of servings: 4-6