Artichokes (aginảres in Greek) are the most tasty and unique vegetable of Spring. These flower buds can be found fresh only at this time of the year and the list of recipes to cook them is endless.
Globe artichokes are cultivated worldwide but the ‘wild’ variety, although they are smaller and have thorns, have been preferred in Greece since ancient times. They cost double the price of Globe artichokes because of their wonderful taste. Wild artichokes are more difficult to find in the market but in the island of Tinos they are widely cultivated, marinated in olive oil, and sold canned, - a great meze.
In Greece we also make a very nice vegetable stew with artichokes, broad beans and peas, all of which are in season at the same time.
Since Easter is getting close, one of our favorite traditional festive dishes is lamb stew with artichokes ( arnảki me aginảres). This dish combines lamb, (the Greeks’ favorite meat); with artichokes, fresh herbs, greens (in this case fresh green onions and dill), and olive oil, - all producing a real taste of Spring.
To be honest, fresh artichokes are a bit messy to peel. On the internet you can find videos and plenty of information about that process, but always remember that frozen artichokes will work fine; we use them often, especially when fresh ones are not in season.
1200gr lamb cut in individual portions (use any part of the animal you prefer)
12 artichoke hearts (globe or wild if possible) cut in halves
1 onion chopped
1 batch of fresh green spring onions and fresh dill, chopped (about 200gr)
½ cup olive oil, for the frying
½ cup olive oil, for the cooking
flour to drizzle the meat
1 litre of hot water
juice from a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
In a heavy skillet over medium heat, add ½ cup of olive oil and, when hot enough, fry the artichokes until lightly browned on their edges. Remove the artichokes from the pan and set them aside.
Drizzle the meat with flour and fry in batches until golden brown. Use the same skillet in which you fried the artichokes.
In a cooking pot over medium heat add the other ½ cup of olive oil and cook the onion until it has wilted. Add the fried meat and hot water, salt and pepper, bring to a boil, and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is tender.
When the meat has almost cooked add the batch of fresh greens and the fried artichokes and cook for 15 more minutes. Add the lemon juice and serve hot.