but it was beautifully formed. In structure and in flavour.

I am, of course, talking about the artichoke and not myself!

We have harvested our first artichoke – in Orkney! OK, it was from a plant pup donated by a friend and it was also grown in the polytunnel, but that is a result from its first summer. I simply hadn’t expected it to settle in so well and reward us for the shelter of the tunnel so quickly.

Ready to boil – I just cut across the tops of the leaves with scissors to remove the sharp points. Self preservation for when picking the leaves off the cooked artichoke to drag the fleshy bases through your dressing before scraping the softness off between your teeth.

Artichokes are quick to cook in a pressure cooker but when boiled they do take a surprisingly long time to become tender. This magnificent specimen was, in truth, not much larger than a tennis ball. I gave it 20 minutes at a moderate simmer – it could have done with another 5-10 but the leaves came off easily enough. It was only when we got down to the hairy choke – the protection over the holy grail of artichokes, the fond – that we realised another few minutes would have been good.

Cooked and ready to please us in the not-quite Mediterranean sunshine.

Using a teaspoon I carefully scraped away the hairs of the choke, but they were still quite firmly attached and a little of the fond was wasted. Then it was simply a case of dividing the succulent spoils and dousing them in the dressing.

I’m usually a garlic mayo fan with artichokes but the plant donor is definitely a vinaigrette girl, for tattie salads and much else. With a good thick vinaigrette already made we had our first Orkney artichoke Jenny’s way. And very delicious it was too.

I have never seen artichokes for sale in Orkney and so, spurred on by this one, I will probably increase my plants to three. We do love them so. That will be quite a lot of polytunnel space until we have a sheltered area suitable for them outside – we are right by the beach, open and windswept – but we are hoping that a lean-to greenhouse will provide a better growing atmosphere for tomatoes and so we shall free up more summer tunnel space. I wonder if artichokes would like growing in fish boxes? They’d probably do ok in plastic trugs. I’ll let you know. In a year or two.