Artichoke ‘Romanesco’ – Cynara cardunculus.
The meaty flower head is harvested in bud before the flower opens. The heads are boiled, individual petals pulled off and their bases eaten after dipping in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
The centre is also delicious after the fuzzy ‘choke’ centre has been removed. Their delicate flavour makes it worth the effort.
Rome is famous for its artichokes, yet during Roman times they didn't exist. They were bred in the 16th century from the wild cardoon.
Today going to Rome and not eating artichokes is like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel tower!
Perennial: sow from February to April, and August to October, 2cm deep in well-manured ground or start them off in pots and plant out when large enough to handle.
The plants will die back in the autumn. Cover them with straw or fleece and they will come back to life the following spring, growing to almost 2m in height.
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