Turkish-style Artichoke Bottoms Are Called 'Zeytinyağlı Enginar'

This classic Turkish 'meze' looks beautiful on the plate and make a wonderful appetizer for company. Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2012
  • 60 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins,
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 1 bowl (2 servings)
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What's your favorite way to eat artichokes? Do you like them the French way - steamed whole with melted butter for dipping the leaves? Or do you prefer them Italian-style -- pickled and seasoned artichoke hearts to put in your salads, pizza and antipasti?

If you love artichokes and are looking for new and different ways to prepare them, try them the Turkish way. In Turkey, you not only eat the leaves or the hearts of the artichoke, you eat the entire bottom of the vegetable. This way you get more artichoke flavor punch per artichoke!

Advantages of Artichoke Bottoms

Artichoke bottoms Turkish-style is a spectacular dish eaten alone, as an alternative to salad, or the traditional Turkish way as a part of a larger line-up of 'meze,' or starters served before the main meal. The light flavors and seasoning with fresh dill weed accent rather than overpower the delicate flavor of the artichoke.

This recipe makes a wonderful dish for company. You can prepare it beforehand and it looks beautiful and exotic on the plate. Once you learn how to cut and peel the artichoke, preparation is easy.

I like to prepare this dish and eat it for several days when watching my weight. Artichokes are very nutritious, low in calories, carbs and fat and high in fiber and vitamin C among other healthy nutrients. This recipe only is also great for vegetarians and vegans.

What You'll Need

  • 6 large artichokes
  • 1 cup pearl onions (peeled)
  • 1 medium carrot (peeled and cut into small cubes)
  • 2/3 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 medium new potato (peeled and cut into small cubes)
  • 1 lemon (juice and rind)
  • several sprigs of dill weed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

How to Make It

Trimming Your Artichokes

To begin, you should have a sturdy, sharp knife with a fairly short blade and a clean pair of gardening gloves to protect your hands from the thorns on the end of each leaf.

First, remove all the leaves by hand. Then, use your knife to remove the soft inner leaves and the "choke" in a circular motion as if you were peeling an apple.

You can cut off the stems, or for a decorative touch, you can peel then and cut them all about the same length at about two inches long.

Also use your knife to trim neatly around the edges and remove the leaves from the bottom.

Here is a great pictorial guide to show you how to do it:

How To Clean and Trim an Artichoke

In the end, you should have a pretty, neatly trimmed artichoke cup with or without the stem. Repeat the same with all your artichokes. When you are finished, rub some lemon juice all over the artichoke cup to keep it from darkening. You can also store them in the fridge for a day or two submerged in water mixed with lemon juice.

Cooking Your Artichoke Bottoms

Arrange your artichoke bottoms with the stems up in the bottom of a large saucepan. Add the pearl onions, cubed carrots, peas, sugar, salt and pepper and lemon juice and rind. Add enough water to the pan to cover the bottoms by about one-half inch.

Drizzle the olive oil on top and lay the sprigs of dill weed on the top. Turn the heat on high, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover.

Let the artichokes simmer gently for about 15 minutes. Add the cubed potato and continue to simmer until the artichokes are tender and the liquid has nearly disappeared, about 15 minutes more.

Plating and Serving Your Artichokes

Remove the pan from the heat, remove the cover and let it cool down to room temperature. Remove the sprigs of dill weed and discard them. Remove each artichoke bottom gently with the aid of a spatula and arrange them on a serving platter.

Spoon the cooked vegetables randomly around the bases of the artichokes. Drizzle the remaining liquid over them, adding some olive oil if needed.

Garnish with chopped fresh dill weed.