There’s no doubt that spring has already sprung in Greece. A mild winter gave its place to a splendid, warm and bright season. If anyone believes that summer is the best season to visit Greece, well honestly, they have never been here in springtime! The countryside and the islands as well, are greener than ever, wild flowers colour the scene and orchard trees are blooming sending waves of freshness and delightful scent.
If there’s one vegetable that defines spring, that’s certainly the artichoke. Commonly grown in the Mediterranean area, it is the main ingredient in many famous dishes of the surrounding countries. In Greece the most famous dish made with artichoke is “Anghináres alla Políta”, the word “Políta” referring to the city of Constantinople (Istanbul) where many Greeks used to live until the 1950s.
Here’s the recipe:
Artichokes alla Políta
8 fresh artichokes trimmed* and cut into quarters
1 large onion finely chopped
2-3 spring onions finely chopped
3 large carrots cleaned, peeled and cut into rings
3 large potatoes cleaned, peeled and cut into large pieces
1 cup olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons flour
lemon juice of 1 lemon
3-4 tablespoons freshly chopped dill
Warm the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion and spring onions. Cook for a few minutes stirring occasionally, then add the carrots, artichokes, potatoes, dill, salt and pepper and a glass of warm water. Cook for some minutes and then cover with lid and let it simmer over low-medium heat for about half an hour or until artichokes are tender. There must be some sauce left in the pot. If not, pour some more water –about ½ a glass. In a bowl mix the flour with the lemon juice and add some of the sauce from the pot. Stir well in order to make the mixture creamy with no lumps. Add the lemon-flour mixture to the vegetables in the pot and stir firmly.
*How to trim artichokes:
Trimming artichokes can be a tedious process but in no case can frozen or canned artichokes beat the unique, sensational taste of the fresh ones! So, to be honest, trimming artichokes is worth the fuss!
Fill a large bowl with fresh water, add the lemon juice of one lemon, then throw in the water the two halves of the lemon. With a sharp knife cut off and discard the top of the artichoke. Rub the cut end with the lemon. Start peeling the exterior leaves of the artichoke until you reach the tender ones. Trim the outer, green part around the base and the stem of the artichoke. Don’t forget to rub with lemon wherever you cut. With the help of a teaspoon, scoop out all the hairy choke from the centre. When finished, immediately place the artichoke in the bowl.