This week, we’re sharing a dish inspired by spring: stuffed artichokes.
With peak season in the spring and fall, artichokes are prepared by cultures worldwide. The naturally occurring artichoke — the cardoon — is believed to be native to the Mediterranean, and it has records of being a food source for ancient Greeks and Romans. Beginning in the classical period of ancient Greece, varieties of artichoke were cultivated in Sicily, with the ancient Greeks eating the plant’s flower bud and leaves. According to whatscookingamerica.net, the ancient Greeks and Romans considered artichokes an aphrodisiac, and in ancient Greece, it was credited with being effective in securing the birth of boys.
We don’t know about that, but we do know that a common preparation today, stuffed artichokes, is quite delicious. To prepare, a filling is stuffed into the center of the artichoke and into the spaces at the base of each leaf before the artichoke is steamed or baked. Italian stuffing often includes bread crumbs, garlic, grated cheese, parsley and lemon zest, with prosciutto or sausage making the occasional appearance. Throughout the Middle East, a popular stuffing features ground lamb, spices, pine nuts, raisins and fresh herbs like dill or mint.
This recipe, from Michael Symon, makes Roman-style stuffed artichokes, with fresh Italian bread crumbs, pecorino and parmesan, lemon and white wine. To trim the artichokes, use a serrated knife and a paring knife.
Roman-Style Stuffed Artichokes
For the bread crumbs:
1 Italian loaf
For the artichokes:
6 medium artichokes
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
3/4 cup Pecorino Romano (grated)
3/4 cup Parmesan (grated, plus additional to garnish)
6 cloves garlic (peeled, finely minced)
1/2 cup parsley (finely chopped)
1/2 cup mint (finely chopped)
1 cup olive oil
2 lemons (zested, juiced)
1/2 cup dry white wine
water (to cover artichokes)
For the bread crumbs: Preheat oven to 350ºF.
In the bowl of a food processor, tear up a loaf of day-old Italian bread and pulse until bread crumbs are coarse. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake until the bread crumbs are lightly toasted and dried out. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of bread crumbs for artichokes.
For the artichokes: To clean the artichokes, cut the stems off so the artichokes stand upright. Peel the outer skin of the stem off and slice. Pull off the tough outer green leaves until you get to the more tender center that is slightly yellow. Trim the top 1/4 off of the artichoke and scoop out the center choke. Place the sliced stems in the bottom of a Dutch oven and place the trimmed artichokes on top.
In a large mixing bowl, add the bread crumbs, pecorino, parmesan, parsley, mint, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil, and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide the bread crumb mixture evenly among the artichokes, packing it into the center as well as the outer leaves. Pour the white wine in the bottom of the pot and add enough cold water to reach the bottom of the artichoke leaves, about 1 inch. Place the Dutch oven over medium-high heat and bring to a gentle boil. Cover and reduce the heat. Simmer until the artichokes are tender and the leaves pull away easily, about 40-45 minutes.
Serve the artichokes warm or at room temperature. Garnish with grated Parmesan.