Artichokes with Couscous

This dish offers something for everyone. It’s perfect if you want to knock something up very quickly, in which case you can use brined artichoke hearts and instant couscous. Otherwise, it’s a great way to use fresh artichokes when in season, which makes for longer, but very rewarding, cooking.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes, plus making the vegetable stock, and jam (optional)
Cooking Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 100 g/ oz/½ cup couscous
  • 15 g/½ oz/1 tbsp butter
  • 800 ml/28 fl oz/ cups Vegetable Stock
  • 4 fresh artichokes, or 4 brined artichoke hearts
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 8 small anchovy fillets in oil, drained and roughly chopped
  • 8 olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp capers, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp Burnt Tomato & Chilli Jam or finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves, to sprinkle
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Put the couscous in a bowl, add the butter and rub it into the couscous. Line the top half of a steamer with some muslin cloth and put the buttered couscous in the steamer basket. Pour the vegetable stock into the bottom half and place over a medium heat. Once the stock has come to the boil, place the steamer basket over it, cover and steam for 30 minutes or until the couscous is soft. Reserve any remaining stock.
  2. Meanwhile, to prepare the artichoke hearts, begin by cutting off the stem close to the base and then peeling off the outer leaves of each artichoke either one-by-one or pulling off a few at a time (not too many, though, or you’ll tear into the fleshy bottom). The leaves will get softer and smaller as you progress, and then you’ll reach the fuzzy choke. Using a spoon or a paring knife, gently scrape out all the inner choke to leave a bowl-shaped cavity. You don’t want any of the prickly hairs to remain. Quickly squeeze one of the lemon halves onto the artichoke hearts to prevent them from oxidizing and transfer them to a bowl filled with water and the juice of the remaining lemon half. Alternatively, if using brined artichoke hearts, rinse the brined hearts well and place in a bowl of water with a squeeze of lemon.
  3. Toss the steamed couscous with the garlic, anchovies, olives, capers and jam. Season lightly with salt (the anchovies will already have made the dish salty) and pepper. Fill the cavity in each artichoke heart with the couscous mix. Stand the artichokes in a large heavy-based saucepan and pour over the reserved stock (diluted with more water if it has reduced: the stock should come to just below the top of the artichokes). Cook, partially covered, over a medium heat for 30 minutes or until the hearts are soft. Serve warm, sprinkled with mint.

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