Artichokes with peas a la polita is a quite famous, traditional, vegan Greek dish, healthy and deliciously rich in flavours. It is especially popular during the fasting periods. Earthy artichokes combined with green peas, carrots and potatoes deliver their best at springtime – when in season. However, it is cooked all-year-round by using frozen artichokes and peas.
The dish introduced to Greek cuisine by Nicholas Tselementes, a local chef of the mid-twentieth century, who took the traditional “artichokes with oil” recipe originated in the area of Constantinople (Istanbul) and inspired his version making one of the most beloved Greek meals.
What is the meaning of “a la polita?”
Tselementes invented the term a la polita – he is the first who mentions it-, giving the dish a name with which the Greeks call Constantinople: Constantinoupoli or simply Poli (= city), meaning the city of Constantine – the emperor. Therefore, artichokes a la polita means artichokes the Constantinople-style.
Until that time, there were no carrots, potatoes or chopped onions in the recipe. He added these ingredients to increase the layers of flavour and enrich the classic preparation. Furthermore, Tselementes refers to another variation with egg-lemon sauce (similar to the vegetarian Cretan ‘aginarato’), as well as sautéing the artichokes in butter.
The standard ingredients in artichokes a la Polita remain the potatoes, spring onions or shallots and carrots. In this recipe, we also add peas, which contribute sweetness, colour and texture to the food feasting the freshness of springtime. You may use either fresh or frozen artichokes and peas.
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Artichokes a la polita – Greek artichoke and peas stew
Preparation: 10 minutes to 1:30 hour, depending on whether you will use frozen artichokes and peas or fresh and have them peeled. Cooking time: 20-30 min. Easy recipe.
Ingredients (for 4-5 people – main course)
8 artichokes fresh or frozen
3 medium potatoes, cut into 2 cm cubes
500 g peas (fresh or frozen)
3 large spring onions cut into thin slices
3 carrots cut in slices
4-5 sprigs of dill chopped
juice of ½-1 lemon
100 ml Greek virgin olive oil
1 tbs flour
3 cups (750 m) hot water
salt, freshly ground pepper
To clean the artichokes: Discard the outer leaves and stems. Use a spoon to hollow out the inside of the artichoke flowers, eliminating and the smallest leaves in the centre. Soak them in water mixed with the juice of one lemon to prevent blackening before you are ready to use them.
Preparing the vegetables: Put the olive oil in a shallow, wide saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the onions, stirring to saute them without changing colour. After 4 minutes put the carrots. Saute them together for 4-5 minutes, then add the artichokes and potatoes. Saute for another 4-5 minutes.
Note: The gradual sautéing of the vegetables keeps their temperature from dropping, so they are cooked in less time, thus maintaining their taste.
To finish: Put the flour in a bowl and add about a ladleful of the boiling vegetable stock. Stir the mixture until it slightly thickens, and slowly pour it back into the pot.
Add the dill and lemon juice, salt and pepper. Then simmer for another 5-10 minutes to reduce the water – should be evaporated. Taste the artichokes and peas with a fork to check the tenderness. When ready, leave for half an hour for the temperature to drop gently and the tastes to set. Meanwhile, enjoy the burst of the aromas.
Serving: Transfer the artichokes a la polita on a platter, or serving bowl or in separate dishes adding a line of extra virgin Greek olive oil, some lemon drops and salt-pepper. Accompany with feta cheese and freshly-made bread.