Artichauts violets braisés à la citronnelle, roquette et parmesan

Braised Purple Artichokes with Lemongrass, Rocket & Parmesan

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Walking in the countryside of France, you could be forgiven for thinking that this purple thistle was little more than a weed. But you’d be missing something really special. Catherine de Medici, an Italian princess, recognized this plant for the delicacy it is, and was responsible for bringing it to France in the late 16th century.

Preparation time 35 minutes
Cooking time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 16 small purple artichokes or 280 g/10 oz drained, preserved artichokes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed with the flat edge of a knife or your hand
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, halved and bruised
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 150 ml/5 fl oz/scant cup dry white wine
  • 1 small red pepper, peeled if desired, deseeded and chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 100 g/ oz rocket leaves, to serve
  • 50 g/ oz Parmesan or a hard cheese such as Comté, shaved, to serve

Dijon Mustard Dressing

  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Method

If using fresh artichokes, fill a large bowl with water and mix in the lemon juice. Remove the outer leaves from the artichokes and cut the tops off. Trim and peel the stalks. Cut in half lengthways and put them immediately in a bowl of water to prevent them from discolouring.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Drain the artichokes and add them to the pan. Cook for 3 minutes, turning occasionally with a wooden spoon, until golden brown all over. Add the garlic and lemongrass and squeeze a few drops of lemon juice over. Cook for a further 5 minutes. If using preserved artichokes, cook for 1 minute before adding the garlic, lemongrass and lemon juice and then for a further 2 minutes.

Add the wine and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook for 2–3 minutes until slightly reduced, then add the red pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by at least half (to about 2–3 tablespoons). The artichokes should be cooked but still quite firm. Remove the artichokes from the pan and set aside for 15 minutes. If there is any remaining cooking liquid in the pan, drain it into a small bowl and discard the lemongrass.

Meanwhile, you can make the dressing. Add the mustard, oil and balsamic vinegar to the cooking liquid. Season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine.

When the artichokes have cooled, scoop out and discard the chokes, using a small spoon. Be careful not to lose any of the artichoke heart just below the choke. Cut the flesh into quarters, if preferred.

Arrange the artichokes on a plate, top with the rocket and Parmesan shavings, sprinkle with the dressing and serve. This is a delicious, refreshing and colourful dish, and also makes a great accompaniment to grilled meat or fish.

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