New season, bunches of tender violet artichokes once again appear on the shelves of the vegetable market. I like nothing better than to poach, drizzle with a buerre de fleur de mer and enjoy the butter dripping decadence but, today I prepared them with a difference. Taking inspiration from a favourite magazine, Food & Wine, the artichokes are poached and then topped with a to-be-crunchy topping before oven baking. This adds oodles of flavour and, the crisp texture contrasts beautifully with the creaminess of the choke. This is a versatile accompaniment, delicious served either hot from the oven or prepared in advance and chilled.

Fill a bowl with water and add the juice of ½ a lemon – the remaining lemon will be used to rub over the cut artichoke and prevent it from browning.

Prepare each artichoke in turn by trimming it at the stalk then remove the tough outer leaves. Slice the artichoke, about 3 cm from the top which removes the tough ends of the protruding leaves then cut in half lengthways and remove the tiny, hairy choke with the tip of a small, sharp knife. Rub the artichoke with the remaining piece of lemon then drop into the bowl of water.

Bring a saucepan of salted water to a rolling boil before poaching the artichoke for 7 minutes or until ‘just’ tender. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and place in a colander to drain.

There were 5 artichokes in my bunch and 1/3 of a cup of panko* breadcrumbs was quite sufficient to provide a deep filled, crunchy topping. To this add 3 or 4 tbsp ready grated Parmesan, ½ tsp ground bay leaves, black pepper and a shake of Korean chilli flakes, though regular chilli powder is an easy substitute then bind with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.

Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking tray with kitchen parchment, placing the artichoke half’s cut-side-up. Sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture then finally a drizzle of olive oil before baking for about 12 minutes or until the topping is golden caramel in colour.


* Japanese panko breadcrumbs can be replaced by fresh white breadcrumbs though not with the ‘golden’ ready-made version.