Food how to guide – how to prepare artichokes in pictures and words

Artichokes are great, and, though they are a bit of a faff to prepare, they’re worth the effort. Here are a few photos showing how to prepare them from our last artichoke feast:

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To begin – chop the top 1/3 of the artichoke

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It should look a bit like this when you’ve done that

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Now chop the artichoke in half down the centre of the stalk

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Now start to scoop the centre out of the artichoke and pull a few of the tougher outer leaves on.

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Now continue to scoop out the fibrous inner part

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Once it’s all scooped out it should look like this.

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Keep the prepped artichokes in some water with lemon juice to stop them from browning

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Cook and eat as you’d wish – these ones have been simply BBQed for a few minutes and served as is

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First bean harvest – and so we have broad bean and purple bean pasta

Cubano Orzo pasta - black bean, lime cilantro, plain semolina, sweet red pepperA couple of year’s back we went to Chicago and when in Chicago visited a rather awesome farmer’s market and an equally awesome pasta shop: Pappardelle’s Pasta where we went a bit crazy and purchased all kinds of wacky pasta. So far, this pasta has been admired from a distance; too good to use in your average recipe. In short though, it amounted to neglect and the darned stuff needed to be used. Two years after its purchase, a harvest of Stratford-balcony-grown purple beans and some fresh broad beans from the organic veggie box, we were finally ready to use some. Specifically, the orzo we purchased. An exciting moment for us all.

purple beansBelow you’ll find the incredible recipe that’s finally deemed good enough for our pasta.

Ingredients:

  • Orzo pasta
  • Handful shelled broad beans
  • Handful of purple French beans or whatever green beans you have to hand
  • Onion
  • Garlic

For the pesto/salsa:

  • Basil – a good bunch of
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsps red wine vinegar
  • Tomatoes (we only had two to use)
  • 8 sundried tomatoes
  • 1 dry, smoked chilli pepper
  • Clove of garlic – just for a hint
  • 3 tbsps olive oil
  • Salt
For the salsa/pesto:
  1. This is somewhere in between salsa and pesto and we used it as the main sauce for the pasta. It’s simple.
  2. Soak the sundried tomatoes and dried, smoked chilli pepper in approximately 2tbsps of boiling water for about 20 minutes before use.
  3. Roughly chop the tomatos and onion.
  4. Crush the garlic with the back of a knife.
  5. Add the sundried tomatoes, dried peppers and the water they’ve been soaking in to a food processor (you could do this in a large pestle and mortar) and add the fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic clove, basil leaves, olive oil, red wine vinegar and olive oil.
  6. Blend.
  7. Season to taste – obviously add salt and pepper at this point, but you can also adjust the oil and vinegar as you see fit. It needs to be of a decent consistency in order to coat the pasta.
For the orzo pasta and beans:
  1. In boiling, salted water blanch the broad beans – takes a couple of minutes (this will depend on how fresh the beans are). Remove from the water. Use the same water to blanch the french beans. We had just picked these from the balcony so they literally needed a quick flash so they still retain a bit of crunch. Remove beans from the water.
  2. Put the orzo on to cook in the water from the beans. We just cooked in the same way you’d cook any pasta – the orzo cooked really quick, probably 5 minutes boiling time. Just keep an eye on and keep checking until al dente.
  3. Drain and put back in the cooking pot and add the two types of beans. Then stir in the salsa.
Then stir the pesto/salsa mixture into the waiting orzo and beans and serve.
We grated some organic cheddar over the top and served.  It was tasty as. Annoyingly, we forgot to take a picture of the finished product as we were too concerned with eating it.

Warm broad bean, butternut squash and feta salad

The final dish

The final dish

This was an experiment following an incredibly busy day and was prompted by the neglected squash that had been in the pantry (large cupboard in the kitchen) for over a month.

Having also recently received a bumper delivery of broad beans, it seemed only natural to have a go combining the two.

The latest soring temperatures in the UK (sweltering heat) inspired a salad as follows:

  • Approximately 15 x shelled broad bean pods
  • 1 x butternut squash
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/2 roll feta
  • 1 x tin chickpeas
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Dash balsamic
  • Squeeze lemon
  1. Cut the butternut squash into bite-sized pieces, drizzle veg oil in a baking tray and coat the squash in it. Season with salt and pepper and cook in an oven set at 180°C (fan assisted).
  2. Shell the bean pods and cook bea ns on the stove for approx 15 minutes, until soft.
  3. Chop up the cucumber, red onion and feta, and put in a bowl to one side.
  4. When cooked, drain the beans and combine with the chickpeas – squeeze lemon over and season with salt and pepper.
  5. After about 20 minutes  the squash ought to be done (should be a little cripsy, or as crispy as you like) so remove from oven.
  6. Pop all things into a larg e mixing bowl and combine with a drizzle of olive oil (or smoked rapeseed oil if you have it), dash of balsamic, s eason with salt and pepper and toss the lot.

In pictures:

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This would likely serve 4 for lunch, or make two large dinners with enough leftovers for lunch.

The consensus on this one is that Ben would eat it and have seconds.

This was an experiment following an incredibly busy day and was prompted by the neglected squash that had been in the pantry (large cupboard in the kitchen) for over a month.