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Seasonal steamed artichokes with fennel and spice

Artichokes are part of the Cape Winelands culinary heritage, and as they are in season, Chef Michelle Theron shares a delightful recipe for Heritage Month. Although artichokes are notoriously difficult when it comes to finding a suitable wine match, the way they are cooked and served maked all the difference. Acclaimed food and wine writer, Fiona Beckett: “Artichokes have the reputation of being a wine-killer but as with most of these diktats, the problem is over-played. True, artichokes can make even dry whites taste oddly sweet, but that doesn’t account for the different ways in which they are cooked and how they are served.” (Read more)

In Van Riebeeck’s time, they were in abundance at the Cape and used in many recipes. We have adapted one such recipe for the modern-day kitchen and palate and this version of Steamed Artichokes with fennel, garlic, ground coriander, mustard seed and nutmeg can be beautifully accompanied by the recently released 2015 La Motte Chardonnay.

Steamed artichoke with fennel and spice


2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil

2 onions, thinly sliced

2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, sliced

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tsp (5 ml) mustard seed

1 tsp (5 ml) ground coriander

½ tsp (2,5 ml) freshly ground pepper

½ tsp (2,5 ml) grated nutmeg

2 Tbsp (30 ml) sugar

½ cup (125 ml) vinegar

½ cup (125 ml) dry white wine

8 artichokes, cleaned and placed in lemon water

4 cups (1 litre) vegetable nage (stock)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat a stove-top casserole dish or saucepan, add the olive oil and sweat the onions, fennel, garlic and thyme for 5 minutes.

Add the mustard seeds, spices, sugar, vinegar and wine. Place the artichokes on top and steam with the lid on for 5 minutes, to retain good colour.

Add the vegetable nage, season with salt and pepper to taste and cook for 15 – 20 minutes until the sauce is thick and the artichokes tender. Check seasoning.

This recipe is also included as part of the collection of traditional recipes in the beautiful cookbook Cape Winelands Cuisine (page 165), published by La Motte and Human & Rousseau at the end of 2011. The book is available from the La Motte Farm Shop (R395) as well as leading book-shops.

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