Aginares à la polita is a traditional vegan Greek artichoke stew
Αγκινάρες αλά πολίτα. You may be wondering why a Greek food blog is sharing a recipe that seems to have a French flair. First, remember that this food blog likes to occasionally celebrate food from other cultures. In this case however, despite the name, the recipe is all Greek. Sort of. So, what the heck does à la polita mean? And why is this classic Greek artichoke stew called aginares à la polita?
This recipe illustrates the complexity and beauty of food, and culture, and history. Asia Minor, which included the city of Constantinoupolis, used to belong to the Greeks until it was taken over by the Turks. Much of the cuisine that we see in various parts of Greece today has its roots in the cooking that was popular in Asia Minor. One style of ancient Greek cooking was called Politiki Kouzina which had recipes including a simple meal of artichokes in oil. This is the origin of aginares à la polita, or Greek artichoke stew.
The original recipe from Constantinoupolis (which today is Istanbul) served as the inspiration for aginares à la polita, a vegan Greek artichoke stew. This modern version was created, and named, by Nicholas Tselemedes, the famous Greek chef and cookbook author. The polis in à la polita refers to the city of Constantinoupolis. Aginares is the Greek word for artichokes. In other words then, the recipe could be called, artichokes from the city of Constantinoupolis.
This recipe is a classic example of Greek cooking, which takes advantage of fresh, seasonal vegetables. It also is traditionally vegan and therefore perfect for periods of lent during which people abstain from eating meat, eggs and dairy. There is another, similar (but not vegan) recipe that uses a rich egg-lemon or avgolemono sauce – you can find that recipe here.
We love recipes like aginares à la polita (Greek artichoke stew). It tastes like spring, is easy to put together, is healthy and wholesome, and rich in history. How delicious!
Fresh or frozen artichokes?
Fresh artichokes are definitely wonderful, and look so pretty, but honestly, when we can use frozen artichokes – we do! They are so much easier! We like to buy frozen artichoke bottoms to use in this recipe (and others like our white bean stuffed artichoke hearts). Although you can defrost the artichoke bottoms before you use them in this recipe, you don’t have to.
How to defrost frozen peas
The quickest and easiest way to defrost peas is to lay them out on a cookie sheet lined with a clean kitchen towel for approximately 30 minutes. If you don’t defrost your peas, keep in mind that they will release water, so you will not need to add as much as we suggest in the recipe. Ultimately, it’s not imperative that you defrost your peas – just keep in mind that any excess water they release in cooking will dilute the flavours in your recipe, so you may need to adjust the seasoning or increase the cooking time (to have the excess water evaporate).
Looking for more lenten recipes? How about these?
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Aginares à la polita (Greek artichoke stew)
- 1 large pot
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 750 grams frozen artichoke buttoms (no need to defrost)
- 4 carrots, chopped in 1 inch chunks
- ¼ cup tomato sauce
- ½ cup water, boiling
- 4 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 500 grams frozen peas defrosted
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ cup freshly chopped dill
- 1 ½ lemons, squeezed
- 1 tbsp flour
- Heat the oil in a large pot set over medium heat and add the onions. Fry the onions for 3 - 4 minutes, stirring regularly, until translucent.3/4 cup olive oil, 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- Add the carrots, artichokes, tomato sauce and boiled water to the pot and cook for 5 minutes. Next add in your potatoes, stir to combine, and cook for an additional 5 minutes.750 grams frozen artichoke buttoms, 4 carrots, chopped in 1 inch chunks, ¼ cup tomato sauce, ½ cup water, boiling, 4 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
- Add in your peas, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Your ingredients should be covered with liquid. If they are not, add in some additional boiled water. When you have reached the boiling point, reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 40 minutes. In the last 10 minutes of cooking, add in your fresh dill.500 grams frozen peas, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, ¼ cup freshly chopped dill
- Turn off the heat and transfer some liquid (about a ladle full) into a small bowl. Let the liquid cool slightly and then add in the juice of 1 ½ lemons and the flour. Stir, and add that liquid back into the pot. Shake the pot gently to combine.1 ½ lemons, squeezed, 1 tbsp flour
- Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.