Artichokes can be pretty hard to come by, so whenever we're lucky enough to encounter them, we buy as many as we can afford and take them home to preserve them. Marinating them in oil, herbs and chilli infuses them with flavour, preparing them to throw into salads, to eat with mozzarella or prosciutto as antipasti or to mix through pasta. They work with many different flavours, so throw in whatever you wish - thyme, rosemary, bay and sage are all brilliant. Marinating works best with the small purple or spikey artichokes from Italy as their outer leaves aren't as delicious as those of the globe artichoke.
They're notoriously laborious to prepare so you'll need to give yourself a little time, but once you get the technique mastered, you'll find yourself whizzing through them.
Fills an approx. 500ml jar
6 small violetta or spikey artichokes
1 red chilli
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 small bunch parsley
1 bay leaf
1 heaped teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 x 500ml sterilised jar
Prepare a bowl of cold water with a lemon squeezed into it to prepare the artichokes from browning. Remove the tough outer leaves of the artichoke, stopping when you come to the tender, yellow leaves. Slice away the top third and lightly peel the artichoke base and stem. Slice in half or quarters lengthways before scooping out the hairy core with a teaspoon. Place them in the acidulated water until ready to use.
Drain the artichokes, then place in a a deep pan and cover with fresh water and throw in the chilli, garlic, parsley, bay, fennel seeds, peppercorns, 3 tablespoons of oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt. Bring to the boil, then cover with cartouche (a circle of baking paper) to keep the artichokes submerged, and turn down to a simmer for 5 minutes until tender. They're ready when you can easily pierce with a the tip of a sharp knife. Leave to cool in the water.
Drain, then eat immediately or transfer to a sterilised jar along with the garlic, chilli and bay and cover with olive oil. Will keep in fridge for up to 4 weeks.