Artichokes are my vegetable love crush. If I were asked to choose my last meal on earth, I'd be tempted to eschew the foie gras and truffles, and accept a plate of delicately braised artichokes instead (maybe a few deep-fried ones thrown in.)
They're a robust and tricky vegetable to prepare, but all the more satisfying for having made the effort. The pile of waste can be a little alarming once you're done peeling away the tough outer leaves, and removing the top third of the flower. Artichokes are a member of the thistle family, so most of it is inedible anyway. Leave some of the tougher leaves intact so that once cooked you can scrape out their tender flesh between your teeth and discard the skin. This is an integral and rewarding part of the journey towards the prized, heartbreakingly-tender inner petals.
Finally, it's important to leave a decent portion of the stem attached - the flavour there is the absolute essence of artichoke.
4 globe artichokes
juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Heat the garlic and olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and add the drained artichokes in a single layer cut side down. Cook over low-medium heat until garlic is aromatic. Add the parsley, turn over and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few more minutes then turn them back over so they are face down again. Add 1/2 cup water, cover the pan and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes. Take off lid and turn up the heat a bit and simmer for another 10 minutes until all the water has evaporated and you are left with some juice at the bottom of the pan like a sauce. Remove from pan to a serving platter, cut sides up, sprinkle more parsley, drizzle sauce from the pan with a squeeze of lemon juice and a grinding of black pepper.
You can also cut the artichokes in quarters, just reduce the cooking time.