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