We’ve had only five artichokes so far this year and there are a few more to come before the weather gets too dry for them and the plants die back over the summer. Today we picked three small ones and some broad beans and I cooked them together with sweet onions also from the garden. Artichokes and broad beans do seem to go very well together and I posted a recipe a couple of years ago which was my version of a dish we’d eaten in a Greek restaurant in London. There’s another version using dill, posted yesterday on the French-language blog En Direct d’Athènes. Today, when I’d cooked the artichokes, beans, onions and a few garlic cloves in olive oil and white wine, I let them cool and then served them as a first course with some finely chopped fresh garlic, Greek oregano leaves, ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. There’s nothing like the flavour of your own artichokes eaten on the day they were picked.
And for the future …
The little caper seedlings which I entrusted to our neighbour José to look after while we were away look fine although they’re growing very slowly. I expected that, though. We’ve grown them from seeds sent to me by Michelle at From Seed to Table in California. She’s an expert caper grower and you can see her plants and some of this year’s buds here. I think it will be a while before we can expect to harvest any buds, but it will be worth the wait and I’m very excited about growing them from seed.
Some of the Italian and Croatian caper seedlings we’ve managed to grow. Soon we shall have to cut down one of each pair to allow the other to grow. Caper plants are very sensitive to root disturbance, according to Michelle, so you can’t just pull one out or try to transplant both. At the moment they are still in small pots and we keep them at the house on a balcony which gets the morning sun but not the hot afternoon sun, which might dry them out too much. When they are bigger we’ll transplant them to large terracotta plants and put them in the garden, and maybe try growing one in a wall which is their natural habitat. By that stage they will thrive in full sun.