stuffed artichokes

one of the things i has most excited me as a result of reading and cooking from jerusalem, is that i discovered that my local turkish supermarket sells frozen, pre-prepared globe artichoke bases. so exciting!

this meant that tackling the recipe for stuffed artichokes with peas and dill, which really appealed when i flicked through the book, as i love artichokes, but which was also a definite no, as i hate preparing them, was actually a complete doddle to make.

it was also wonderfully delicious – the artichoke bases are stuffed with a mix of beef mince and leeks, flavoured with allspice, cinnamon and mint. they are browned in a pan and then baked in a lemony stock, to which peas and dill are added just before serving (and after i took the picture above).

the filling is really interesting and reflects the book’s focus on vegetables – there is just over half as much mince as (blanched) leeks in the mix, which gives it a lightness that means the artichokes aren’t overwhelmed; it also makes the dish much cheaper and healthier.

stuffed artichokes with peas and dill* (serves 4)

400g leeks, trimmed and cut into 0.5cm slices

250g minced beef

1 egg

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons dried mint

12 medium artichokes (or frozen artichoke bottoms – woo hoo!)

80ml olive oil

4 tablespoons plain flour

500ml vegetable or chicken stock

90ml lemon juice, plus extra, if using fresh artichokes

200g frozen peas

10g dill, roughly chopped

salt and black pepper

blanch the leeks for five minutes, drain, refresh and squeeze out the water. roughly chop the leeks and place in a bowl along with the meat, egg, spices, mint, a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper. stir well.

if using fresh artichokes, have to hand a bowl with water and lemon juice. remove the stems from the artichokes and cut across the flower so you're left with only the bottom quarter. using a small sharp knife or vegetable peeler, remove the outer layers of the artichoke until the base, or bottom, is exposed. scrape out the hairy "choke" and put the base in the acidulated water.

heat two tablespoons of oil in a saucepan large enough to hold all the artichokes lying flat. fill each artichoke base with a tablespoon or two of the beef mixture, pressing it in. gently toss the stuffed artichokes in flour and fry for 90 seconds a side (you may prefer to do this in batches). wipe the pan clean and return all the artichokes to the pan, sitting them flat and snugly side by side. mix the stock, lemon juice and remaining oil, season generously, and ladle over the artichokes until they are almost, but not completely, submerged; you may not need all the liquid. place baking parchment over the top, cover with a lid and simmer on low heat for one hour. when ready, just about four tablespoons of liquid should remain – if not, remove the lid and paper, and reduce the sauce. set aside until the artichokes are just warm or at room temperature.

when ready to serve, blanch the peas for two minutes, drain and add to the pan, along with the dill. season to taste and stir gently to mix.

*from jerusalem