Globe artichokes are often overlooked - here's why you should persevere with the prep.

Globe artichokes are often overlooked because preparing them can seem a daunting task. Here, I’ve tried to dispel that myth and show how simple it can be.

Roast butterflied leg of lamb with vignarola (Roman spring-vegetable stew) and pesto sourdough crumbs

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 butterflied leg of lamb
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1tbspn sea salt
  • 2 globe artichokes
  • Juice of 2 lemons (for acidulated water)
  • 3 slices sourdough
  • 1tbspn fresh pesto
  • 2 finely sliced red onions
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 150ml white wine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 200g baby broad beans
  • 200g garden peas
  • 1 radicchio, cut into slim wedges
  • 3tbspn fresh pesto
  • 200ml Greek yoghurt

Method
Preheat your oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6. Stud the lamb with rosemary and garlic, then sprinkle with salt. Roast on a tray for 15 minutes, turn the temperature down to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and roast for a further 15 minutes if you like your meat rare (adjust cooking time accordingly for medium or well done). Allow the lamb to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

While the meat cooks, remove the stiff outer leaves from the artichokes until you can see pale-yellow leaves all around—dip the artichoke in acidulated water (water with the juice of the lemons) as you go, to prevent it from turning brown. Cut the stems off, then cut the tops about halfway down to reveal purple inner leaves and the choke. Scoop out the choke with a teaspoon, then tidy loose leaves with a small paring knife until you’re left with only the artichoke hearts. Cut into even-sized wedges and set aside in the acidulated water until ready to use.

Using a food processor, create breadcrumbs from the sourdough and tablespoon of pesto, then fry them in a hot pan with a little olive oil until brown and crisp. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Next, gently cook the red onions in a pan with the olive oil to maximise their sweetness. Once soft, add the white wine, lemon juice, rosemary sprig and artichoke wedges. Simmer gently until tender, then stir in the broad beans, peas and radicchio. Cook for a further few minutes. Stir the remaining pesto through the yoghurt to create a sauce.

Slice the lamb and serve with the vegetable stew, topped with a sprinkling of sourdough crumbs and with the pesto sauce on the side.

More ways with globe artichokes

Roast butterflied leg of lamb with vignarolaPasta with crab, artichoke and crushed chillies

Prepare a globe artichoke (as for the main recipe) and cook the heart in lemon water until tender. Drain and cut into medium-sized pieces. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and cook 500g of pasta until al dente. Meanwhile, gently heat 300ml of vegetable stock, 100ml of double cream, 2 tablespoons of crushed chillies and seasoning in a pan. Add the artichokes and 200g of white crabmeat, heat gently through and pour over the pasta. Italians can’t stand Parmesan with fish dishes, but I think it tastes rather good with this one.

Artichoke-heart and prawn salad

Prepare a globe artichoke and place the heart in a bowl of lemon water. Cover with clingfilm and microwave for about 8 minutes, until tender. Cut the artichoke into pieces and toss with cooked prawns, diced feta, finely sliced spring onions, seasoning and a handful of rocket. Drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice and serve.

Artichoke dip

Prepare a globe artichoke and cook the heart. Coarsely chop it and mix with fresh basil, garlic and herb cream cheese. Add a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a little zest and serve with crusty bread.