It’s always a good day when fresh artichokes start showing up at the farmer’s market here in Greece. The start of artichoke season, around March/April, usually means the end of winter and the start of spring, which means it’s the start of the season for many other great fruits and vegetables as well. The funny-looking artichokes, stringy wild green asparagus and bright-green spring peas, are usually the first on our list to buy. I usually love steaming the fresh artichokes whole and serving them with a dipping sauce to dip the ends of the leaves in until I reach the prized tender artichoke heart – the perfect springtime snack, or appetizer if you ask me. The smaller, tender baby artichokes are also great for deep-frying.
But all good times come to an end and so does artichoke season – as of now it’s already ended over here (though you might find fresh artichokes all year round where you are, or you may find them during a second peak season in September – October). Being an artichoke lover, I like to extend the period of artichoke season a little by pickling and marinating them near the end of the season so that I can enjoy them in the autumn and winter months as well. Store-bought marinated artichoke hearts are great, but they cannot beat the flavor of these homemade ones, plus they make for a great gift!
I like to serve these marinated artichoke hearts as part of a snack-/cheese platter, or meze. They’re also great to keep in your fridge so that you always have something interesting to add to salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes and homemade pizza’s (or add them to this quiche instead of fresh artichokes).
Pickled Marinated Artichoke Hearts
- 8 spiny- or globe artichokes
- 1 lemon, juiced
- for the brine/marinade*:
- ½ tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon mild red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 bay leaves
- About 250ml white wine vinegar, or as much needed to cover artichokes
- 150ml extra-virgin olive oil, or as much needed to create a 1cm seal over the brine
- *the aromatics used are optional. Other nice additions to these pickled artichokes are: garlic cloves, juniper berries, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, or dried oregano.
- Prepare a large enough bowl to hold the cleaned artichokes by filling it with water and the lemon juice.
- Clean artichokes: cut the tops and stems off of the artichokes. Start pulling off the outer leaves until you reach the point where the leaves start look mostly light green or yellow-ish and feel tender. With a pair of kitchen scissors, snip of the coarse pointy tips off the leftover leaves. Quarter the artichokes and remove fuzzy insides with a teaspoon. If you wish you can leave the quarters as it is, or cut them slightly smaller. Place cleaned artichoke pieces in the bowl with water and lemon juice to keep them from discoloring while you clean the rest.
- Cook artichokes: Bring a pot of water to a simmer. When bubbles start to form, add the cleaned, quartered artichokes and cook for about 8 minutes until slightly tender, but not mushy and soft.
- When the artichokes are tender, remove them from the heat and drain. Let the cooked artichokes cool down a little.
- In the meantime, toast your aromatics:to a small frying pan over medium heat, add the mustard seeds, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes and peppercorns. Toast for a few minutes until fragrant.
- Add ingredients to your sterilized glass jar: Put 1/3 of the toasted aromatics and ¼ teaspoon of salt (and sugar, if using) in the bottom of your glass jar and add half of the cooked artichokes. Sprinkle over another third of the aromatics and add the other half of the artichokes and the final third of the aromatics.
- Add vinegar until the artichokes are mostly submerged and top off with olive oil to create about a 1 – 1.5cm seal of oil over the brine*.
- Leave to marinate in a cool dark place for 2 - 3 days (or longer) before using.