Artichokes are a wonderful spring vegetable to enjoy in a variety of ways. Full of nutrients, artichokes have one of the highest totals of antioxidants of any vegetable. They oxidize (turn brown) quickly once cut if not sprinkled with lemon juice or placed in a bowl of water with lemon juice added.
The acid helps delay the oxidation of the artichokes. In Greek cuisine, the artichoke has been a popular vegetable since ancient times. The wild variety, if you can find them, or you happen to be in Greece, are tiny compared to the California-grown varieties we find in the United States, but the flavor is so delicious, it’s unforgettable.
The wild artichokes are often cooked simply as an addition to scrambled eggs for a tasty brunch dish. Preserved varieties of wild artichokes in jars are available to use in recipes and salads, but large fresh ones can also be cut up into bite-sized pieces and used. Artichokes with potatoes (Aginares me patates) is a favorite springtime recipe to enjoy.
Artichokes and Potatoes (Aginares me Patates)
6 medium to large artichokes
6 medium potatoes
2 bunches scallions, diced
2 fresh lemons
4 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil
2 cups water
1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
Greek sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
To prepare the artichokes, rinse in cool water, then remove the toughest outer leaves and cut off the thorny end with a sharp knife. If the stems are intact and in good shape, leave them on and peel off the tough outer layer.
Cut the artichokes in half and scoop out the choke with a paring knife. Place the cut halves of artichoke in a bowl of cold water with the juice of half a lemon squeezed in. Continue with the rest of the artichokes, then set aside. Prepare the potatoes by rinsing, peeling, and chopping into cubes. Set aside in a bowl of cool water until ready to use.
In a large saute pan or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat until it shimmers. Add the scallions, a dash of salt, and saute until translucent. Drain the water from the artichokes and add them to the pot. Drain the potatoes and add them to the pot along with the water, the juice of one lemon, about half of the fresh dill, 1 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked, but not disintegrated, and the artichokes are tender. You may need to add additional water if the pot dries out and the potatoes and artichokes are not quite cooked through.
Add additional dill at the end for freshness, and adjust the salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Additional lemon juice may also be added, if desired. Serve warm with slices of fresh bread as a Lenten or vegan/vegetarian main dish or as a side dish for your favorite roasted meats during non-fasting periods.
For a shortcut, try the recipe with Greek frozen artichokes like Barba Stathis brand.