Stuffed artichokes (Zeytinyağlı enginar)

P1000079I was propositioned yesterday at the market. A twinkly-eyed vendor talked me into buying artichoke hearts for the first time, under the pretext of ‘helping’ me to pick out the finest cucumbers (because it is easy to mess that up). When I protested that I had nothing against his artichokes, peeled and swimming in big red basins of water, I merely didn’t know what to do with them, he proceeded to lecture me in artichoke cooking 101. Just a little bit of onion, some olive oil, and afyet olsun! How could I refuse?

Artichokes are sold pre-prepared in Turkey, from big bowls full of water and bits of lemon used to stop them discolouring.  I’ve never had much to do with artichokes before, but when I saw these on Ottolenghi’s Mediterranean Feast earlier this year, I resolved to try them when they were next in season.

This dish is traditionally made with diced carrots and peas for the stuffing, and seasoned with dill or parsley. I couldn’t find any peas so I’ve used potatoes and onions here alongside the carrots. I have it on good authority that it’s best to leave this dish to stand for at least 12 hours before consuming. I don’t know about you, but I rarely have this kind of forethought, so I’m guessing that standing the dish for a couple of hours is probably all it needs.

And the result? In the end, it turns out I’m not a massive fan of artichokes… however, this dish went down well, so it seems like it is a good way to prepare artichokes. If you like them, that is.

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What you need

2 artichoke hearts

1 large carrot, cut into cubes

1 medium potato, cut into cubes

½ onion, finely diced

1 tsp salt

Juice of half a lemon

½ cup olive oil

1 cup water

How to make it

  1. First, prepare the filling. Mix the diced vegetables and the onion in a bowl, then set aside.
  2. Now place the artichoke hearts in a small, shallow pan with their hollow side upwards. Squeeze over the lemon juice and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Pile the filling onto the artichokes – it’ll be more than enough so just pile the rest around.
  4. Pour over the olive oil and the water, then turn on the heat. Bring the mixture to the boil and cook at a rolling boil for 10 minutes.
  5. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 15-20 minutes until the artichokes are cooked – they will yield to the point of a knife when ready.
  6. In theory, you should now leave this dish to sit, covered and at room temperature, for at least 12 hours to let the flavours develop.

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