Artichoke: the Goddess of all veggies

Artichoke: the Goddess of all veggies

Caner Kocamaz
April 18, 2017

Artichoke, photo by Merve Göral

Artichokes (Cynara scolymus in Latin) are a heavenly green that even have a place among the stars of Greek mythology. A story goes that Zeus fell in love with Cynara, a mortal, and took her to Olympos. However, the beauty missed her life on earth, and one night Cynara snuck back to her hometown. Upon her return to Olympus, Zeus was enraged and sent her home, in the form of the plant we now know as an artichoke, or enginar in Turkish.

Artichokes grow best in the soils where this legend takes root, on farms along the Aegean. İzmir, especially the surrounding Urla district, is famous for its sakız enginarı, a breed of artichoke lauded for the delicate, luscious flavor of both its leaves and heart. Bursa, on the other hand, produces the hearty Bayrampaşa enginarı, a rounder, heavier type with tougher leaves that is eaten both fresh and preserved. The Aegean region harvest begins in November and reaches its peak around April. The season of its Bursa counterpart begins in May and continues until early summer.

With the advent of the Urla International Artichoke Festival, new uses for this beloved vegetable have emerged. As the gastronomy world has flocked to the area, it has become possible to discover new and unusual artichoke dishes beyond the traditional stuffed or olive-oil poached renditions. Get a taste of artichokes at the Alaçatı Ot Festivali (April 8-9) and the Urla International Artichoke Festival (April 28-30).

How to get the artichoke heart

How to get the artichoke heart

1.Cut off leaves in a spiral movement until you reach the soft bud inside.

2.Trim off the soft bud so you are left with only the heart.

3.Trim stem, and with a paring knife clean any other hard parts on the outside

4.Slightly scoop out the choke inside the heart. Place in water with lemon juice and lemon slices. 

Bursa Bayrampaşa artichoke with smoked buckwheat and Melissa dressing
By Tevfik Alparslan, Executive Chef of Topaz

Bursa Bayrampaşa artichoke with smoked buckwheat and Melissa dressingIngredients:
2 large artichokes
5 shallots
a clove of garlic
a clove of garlic
40 gr crisp carrot
1 lemon, juice of
10 gr sugar
55 mL olive oil
30 gr buckwheat
1 tbsp mustard

1 bouquet Melissa (lemon balm)
Half a lemon
22 mL olive oil
5 mL apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper


Trim sharp leaves and remove choke from the inside of your fresh artichokes, but leave the leaves. Place all ingredients (except for smoked buckwheat and mustard) into a small, deep pot. Add water until 80 percent of the artichokes are covered. Cook on low heat for 40 mins. Let cool.

In another pot, cook smoked buckwheat in a mix of mustard and the artichoke water. When finished, stuff artichokes with the buckwheat. For dressing, chop Melissa and whisk all ingredients together. Pour over artichokes, and serve.

Artichoke Vinaigrette Recipe

Artichoke Vinaigrette Recipe 
by Lale Apa

Ingredients (Serves 4)
- 4 globe artichokes

For vinaigrette (for 240 ml. / 8 fl. oz. / 1 cup sauce)

- 6 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoons dill, finely chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoons sugar - Salt, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 120 ml. / 4 fl. oz. / ½ cup virgin olive oil
- 1 hard-boiled egg

Preparation of vinaigrette:

- Combine the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, dill, sugar, salt and ground black pepper in a mixing bowl.
- Whisk the ingredients together, and while still whisking, add the olive oil, a drizzle at a time. (This will gradually form a thick sauce.)
- If desired, a finely chopped hard-boiled egg can be added to the vinaigrette.

Final preparation:

- Remove the stem from the globe artichokes with a sharp knife, leaving the base flush.
- At about halfway down, cut through the petals horizontally with sharp scissors.
- Cut through the centre flower head (horizontally and at the same height), with a sharp knife.
- Place the globe artichokes in a saucepan of boiling, salted water. (You may need to weigh them down by placing spoons over the artichokes.)
- Simmer over medium heat for 35-40 minutes. (To test when the artichokes are cooked, pull on one of the outer petals, and if it comes away easily, it is ready.)
- Drain when cooked, and leave sitting on their bases to cool.
- Remove the center yellow petals.
- With the aid of a knife, carefully remove the base of the flower head.
- Place the globe artichokes in a soup bowl.
- To serve, you may either place the vinaigrette beside in a small bowl or, alternatively, pour it into the center of the globe artichokes.

- Start by taking the outer petals, and dip them into the vinaigrette before removing the soft part with your teeth. Have a large empty plate at hand for the discarded petals.
- When the outer petals come to an end, pour the remaining vinaigrette into the center of the artichoke to enjoy “the heart”.
- This dish may be served as an entrée