Artichoke is one of those miraculous vegetables. Or is it a flower? Well, I am no expert on the topic yet I know how to cook my artichokes! And this is one of those hearty yet elegant dishes you can make quite easily with fresh artichoke bottoms when they are in season.

Mid-March and April is when artichokes are in full season in my country. Although there may be various local recipes for this healthy vegetable the most common way to consume them is by cooking them in olive oil with peas, and cubed carrots and potatoes. Yet that is a cold dish and it is served as an appetizer.  It would be a pity to have artichokes as a vegetable used merely in olive oil dishes since I believe it deserves to be the star of a meal course, assuming the role of a main dish. And trust me some things can taste quite different when they’re warm. Artichokes are one of those things. This dish goes great as a main course served with some plain pilaf to the side. Try it and see for yourself!

Ingredients

(Makes 4 servings)

  • 4 artichoke bottoms
  • 2 tbsp riviera olive oil
  • Freshly squeezed juice from half a lemon (about 2 tbsp)
  • Salt, couple of pinches sugar
For the ground beef you will need
  • 1 small onion or shallot
  • 250 gr ground beef
  • 1 tbsp dried blackcurrants
  • Riviera olive oil
  • Salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1-2 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill

Step by step method

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  1. Place ready-to-cook (cleaned and washed) artichoke bottoms in a pot with lid, drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and sugar. Add about 100-150 ml hot water in the pot bring to a quick boil then lower heat and cook until artichokes are fork-tender. You may just as well cook the artichoke bottoms in a pressure cooker if you have one. In this case allow about 6 minutes after pressure regulator is on. In any case save the cooking liquid.
  2. Meanwhile place blackcurrants in hot water and set aside. In a small skillet toast pine nuts and set aside (Careful! Pine nuts can quickly burn if you don’t toss them so keep an eye on them while toasting!)
  3. Peel and finely chop onion or shallot. Place a regular size pan over medium heat, add some olive oil (about 2 tbsp), add the onions and toss briefly. Then add minced meat (ground beef) and brown nicely by constantly mixing with wooden spatula. Season with salt and pepper and turn off heat. Drain the blackcurrants and add them to the ground beef and mix.
  4. Now place artichokes into a pot with lid. Fill the hollow part abundantly with the ground beef. Pour the cooking liquid over. Place pot over low-medium heat, cover and simmer just a few minutes to bind the flavors and to heat the dish.
  5. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and chopped dill just before serving.

Bon Appétit!