Artichokes with Yellow Mystery Sauce

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Artichokes always seem rather a treat – especially if they are prepared as cups in this way with the hairy choke and small leaves removed. In this simple recipe, they are eaten cold as a first course and can be prepared several hours in advance. See if anyone can guess what the subtle sauce is made of. If you drink water while eating artichokes, even tap water will taste as if it comes from a mountain spring.

Ingredients

  • 8 large artichokes
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice, plus extra for cooking artichokes
  • 1–1.2 kg (2–2½ lb) pumpkin, seeds and skin removed and flesh chopped roughly
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 75 ml (3 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
  • 200 g (7 oz) 8% fat fromage frais
  • Salt
  • Cayenne pepper

Method

Remove the artichoke stalks and for a neat presentation trim the leaves with scissors. Cook in simmering, lightly salted water with a little lemon juice for 40–45 minutes, until the base leaves separate easily. Drain and cool the artichokes upside down in a colander. Pull out the purple leaves revealing the hairy choke. Scoop out the choke with a teaspoon and discard, rinse the artichokes and drain upside down.

To make the sauce, steam or boil the pumpkin until soft. Then cool under cold water and drain. Put the flesh into a food processor with the lemon juice and caster sugar and whizz until smooth, then gradually whizz in the olive oil. Lastly whizz in the fromage frais and season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper. Pour into a bowl and leave until cold.

To serve, put the artichokes on individual plates, spoon some yellow sauce into the centre of each one and sprinkle a little cayenne pepper on top.

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