So tonight’s dinner was an utter catastrophe for the first time in a long while. Abel & Cole shocked me by including artichokes in my fruit and veg box delivery this morning. For those that have heard the name but aren’t acquainted with them, artichokes rival kohlrabis for weirdness. They’re like swollen globe-shaped asparagus heads with thick and spiked outer leaves, and I shit you not in reporting that their cores are full of hair (hence the ‘choke’; you have to scoop this out). I would have been amazed if they turned out to be worth the hassle, but I wasn’t to find out tonight. There was a recipe that used them alongside peas and broad beans in the original Ottolenghi book, so I was aiming for that, but accidentally using stoneware rather than a baking tray seems to have sapped all of the moisture out and left the vegetable’s leaves crisp and basically indigestible. But I have two more left, so I shall try working with them again tomorrow.
In the mean time, pictured above is fattoush: by far the best way to prepare freshly chopped vegetables. Distinctive is the torn toasted pita tossed in. Forget the idea of salad as dry and dull green leaves: the abundance of tomatoes and cucumber here provide plenty of moisture to complement the crisp and sweet peppers and red onion, and the olive oil – lemon juice – honey dressing makes it all slip down the throat real easy. Recipe courtesy of The Guardian. Sumac and za’atar are both available in Waitrose, and, a friend informed me, even in some branches of Sainsburys. It probably depends on the demographics of your area.
Here’s that troublesome hairy artichoke, halved: