Learn about the Globe Artichoke as we place it centre stage in a traditional Maltese dish.
Artichokes are a staple component of the Mediterranean diet. Find out why they should be added to your plate this Spring and learn how to cook this striking, complex vegetable with GITH and Samantha Saliba.
At this time of year the Maltese fields are a spectacular sight; enriched with crops and farmers who proudly tend to the neat rows. This demanding work and dedication is crucial to preserve Gozo’s glorious rural landscape, not to mention the future of our vegetation. We are now in Globe Artichoke season, a curious crop, often overlooked, perhaps due to uncertainties on disassembling their architecture for cooking? However, the extra effort pays dividends since artichokes are super tasty and pack a punch with numerous nutrients.
health benefits of eating artichokes
Artichokes are broadly split into elongated and globe species with further sub-varieties. They are a cultivated member of the thistle family which is no surprise given their spiny leaves. Once the spiky parts are removed the rest of the leaves are edible and should be enjoyed as this is where a large portion of the nutrients are found. In fact, artichoke leaf extract has become a popular supplement, however it’s always best to eat the real thing and here are three reasons why:
- Support Detoxification: artichokes are a source of silymarin, a natural antioxidant which protects the liver from damage and helps liver tissue renewal.
- Improve Digestion: artichokes contain a compound called cynarin, which stimulates bile production to aid digestion of fats and support bowel regularity. Bile also helps remove toxins from the liver.
- Loaded With Fibre: just one medium artichoke contains nearly 30% of our recommended daily fibre intake. Fibre is essential for smooth digestion, to flush out toxins, balance blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy cholesterol ratio.
which parts are edible?
Before sharing Samantha’s version of the traditional Maltese Qaqoċċ Mimli, Samantha helps us out with the nitty gritty of eating artichokes .
“If they are cooked properly, artichoke leaves have a meaty flesh to them. Just pull off one leaf at a time from the outer layer and scrape it off with your teeth. You’re then left with a centre part consisting of a furry part that can be discarded and a soft edible palate beneath it, known as the artichoke heart. This might seem like a tedious and messy job, but eating it with just the right amount of dignity will be so worth it!“
Qaqoċċ Mimli recipe
ingredients (serves 4):
- 4 globe artichokes
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 large can of sustainably sourced tuna (160g)
- 3 sundried tomatoes, chopped
- 4 anchovy fillets, chopped
- 6 black olives, chopped
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- 1 garlic chive, chopped
- 2 cups of water
- 1 cup of white wine
- Juice from 1 lemon
- Local olive oil as needed
- Optional: 4 whole black olives to be placed on top
Vegetarian? Switch the anchovies & tuna for extra sundried tomatoes, capers & olives.
- Prepare your globe artichokes by cutting off the stalk and slicing the top of the artichoke. I recommend using a serrated knife to cut evenly and use a pair of scissors to trim any extra outer leaves.
- Mix your chopped ingredients (sundried tomatoes, anchovy, olives, parsley, and chives) with the breadcrumbs and tuna. Add olive oil as needed to make your mixture stick together.
- Stuff the artichokes generously between all leaf layers using a spoon or pressing with your fingers if necessary. Add the optional olives, one on each artichoke, and drizzle with more olive oil.
- In a small pot on medium heat, warm the wine, water, and lemon juice together. Preferably choose a pot that has a circumference that is small enough to keep your artichokes sitting tightly in place next to each other. Once boiling, carefully place the globe artichokes beside each other, cover with a lid and leave to cook for 45 minutes.
- Serve immediately either as a starter or alongside some steamed vegetables.
- Optional: Drizzle with juice of a lemon wedge for a zesty taste.
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