A tantalising combination of sweet artichokes, salty anchovies, and a zingy lemon dressing
I eagerly await the artichoke season and have them growing in my garden. When they are young, this is the perfect recipe. Artichokes and lemon are perfect partners, and even though my husband thinks anchovies are evil, he will tolerate this dressing which is the perfect foil for the sweetness that artichokes contain. The sweetness on your palate after eating artichoke is cynarin—a chemical that protects your liver, so eating artichoke is a fine thing.
12 small young artichokes
2 unwaxed lemons
Groundnut oil for deep frying
For the batter:
375g ‘00’ Italian flour or plain flour
A pinch of sea salt
125ml olive oil
80ml sparkling water
1 large egg white
For the anchovy dressing:
6 good quality anchovy fillets
Generous handful mint, leaves only
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
120ml fruity extra virgin olive oil
Start with the batter—you will make more than you need, but it keeps well in the fridge. Sift the flour into a bowl, add a pinch of salt and make a well in the middle. Pour in the olive oil, whisking well, then add water. Whisk the egg white to form peaks, then fold into the batter.
To make the dressing, rinse the anchovies and pat dry. Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a blender to make a lovely green paste. Add more oil or lemon to adjust to your taste buds.
To prepare the artichokes, trim away the darker tough outer leaves with a sharp knife and trim and peel the stem. Cut off the tops of the artichoke leaves at the point where their colour becomes dark. Now cut the artichoke in half lengthwise and remove the hairy choke (in young artichokes there will not be any choke).
Immerse in a bowl of water acidulated with lemon juice. Slice the lemons into thin rounds—they will be deep fried so not too thin.
When ready to cook, drain the artichokes and pat dry. Heat the oil in a deep fat fryer or large pan (180C). Cook the artichokes in batches. Dip in the batter and turn to coat, then lift out letting the excess batter fall off. Fry 4–5 at a time until golden. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Fry the lemon slices in the batter in the same way. Serve with the dressing on a warmed plate and enjoy.
Recipe: Ursula Ferrigno