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The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FOOD & DRINK -

Adelicious but un­der­rated veg­etable takes cen­tre stage this week: the ar­ti­choke. This spring­time beauty is re­ally pop­u­lar in Italy, but for some rea­son we seem to treat it with a cau­tion I don’t think it deserves, of­ten only eat­ing it when we see it on restau­rant menus and some­one else has done the prep and cook­ing for us.

True, it has a bit of a prickly ex­te­rior, but once you’ve mas­tered the prepa­ra­tion, you’ll see that the ar­ti­choke can be taken in so many dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions. It can be sim­ply dressed and served as a side or eaten as part of a main meal such as a pasta, risotto, salad or tray­bake, even sprin­kled on a pizza. My good mate and long-term mem­ber of my team, Peter Begg, is a big lover of this beau­ti­ful veg so we’ve teamed up to give you a few recipes that’ll show you just how in­cred­i­ble it re­ally is. There are loads of dif­fer­ent kinds of ar­ti­choke but for th­ese recipes we’re us­ing vi­o­let ar­ti­chokes, which are much eas­ier to pre­pare.

Kick­ing off, this su­per- sim­ple Rocket & Shaved Ar­ti­choke Salad is the per­fect light dish for spring. Pete’s shown you how to make a fiery chilli salt that tastes in­cred­i­ble with the pep­pery rocket and but­tery ar­ti­choke. There’s noth­ing quite like mak­ing fresh pasta, so have a bash at this tagliatelle recipe. Teamed with creamy, gar­licky ar­ti­chokes and topped with salty pro­sciutto and fresh pars­ley, it’s an Ital­ian favourite. And last up, give Pete’s Dressed Ar­ti­chokes with Crushed Al­monds a go for a de­li­ciously zesty, spring­time side dish. It re­quires a bit of ex­tra ef­fort, but be­lieve me, this is re­ally worth it.

If you can’t han­dle the fiery chilli salt sprin­kled on the Rocket & Shaved Ar­ti­choke Salad, then try mix­ing the salt with a tea­spoon of fennel seeds in­stead – this’ll give you a lovely fra­grant fin­ish.

For a tasty snack, try boil­ing your ar­ti­chokes whole and eat­ing the ten­der base of the leaves. Click them off and en­joy them with dips such as hum­mus or pesto – de­li­cious!

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