I can still remember the first time I ate a fresh artichoke. I was 12 years old, at my friend and neighbor Leah's house for dinner. Her mom placed the artichoke in the middle of the table along with a dish of melted butter. I looked at Leah, unsure what to do. She pulled off a leaf, dunked it in the butter, and scraped the flesh off with her teeth, tossed the leaf aside and grabbed another. Who knew it was so simple... and delicious!
Now here I am, 13 years later, finally getting around to having fresh artichoke for the second time. I feel like I've cheated myself out of years of pleasure! But honestly, making artichokes is not only a tedious process, but a scary one at that! I decided to finally be brave and dive right in. I mean, I hack apart pineapples, squash, and I've even cracked several coconuts. Certainly I can handle an artichoke!
When I saw they were on sale and in season last week, I decided now was the time. So I scanned some recipes online and found that a breadcrumb-parmesan stuffing was simple and popular. Then I looked at a few youtube videos and tutorials on how to handle this beast. I tried to document it as best I could in the photos below.
This was my husband's first time eating a fresh artichoke, and he is now a huge fan. The artichoke was tender and flavorful, the stuffing was salty and savory, and we both were wishing I had made a dozen. I will definitely be playing around with the stuffing options for these in the future!
Step 1: Gather artichokes, a lemon, and tools. I wasn't sure what I'd use, so I grabbed a few things. In the end I used my knife, scissors and a melon baller.
Step 2: Cut off the stems. Though you can eat them when they're peeled, since I was baking mine cup side up, I cut it off completely to help stabilize the artichokes.
Step 3: Cut off the top third or fourth of the artichoke, depending on length.
Step 4: Pull off the bottom third of leaves that are tough. Use kitchen scissors to snip off the top third of the remaining leaves.
Step 5: Use fingers to stretch out artichokes and loosen the center. Pull out the center leaves that are pulpy and purple.
Step 6: Use a melon baller to scoop out any pithy center pieces. Do not scoop through the bottom!
Step 7: Cut lemon in half, Squeeze the juice over each artichoke then place the lemon on top while you clean and prep the water. At this point, artichokes can be wrapped and refrigerated for a few hours with the lemon on top.
Step 8: Place artichokes and lemons in a pot filed with water 2/3 of the way up artichokes. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes, partially covered.
Step 9: Preheat oven to 400*. Prepare stuffing mixture. Remove artichokes from water bath carefully (they will be tender) and place in a baking dish. I used a loaf pan to help them stay up.
Step 10: Use half of each stuffing mixture to stuff artichokes. Press mixture between the leaves and into the center. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, until crisp on the edges and stuffing is browned.
Step 11: Very carefully transfer to a plate (I used a spatula for bottom support and tongs to hold it together) and serve.
Parmesan Stuffed Artichokes
2 artichokes, prepared
1 lemon, halved
1/4 c. Italian style breadcrumbs
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 small yellow onion, very finely minced
1 garlic clove, pasted
2 tbsp. EVOO
In a small dish, toss together breadcrumbs, parmesan, onion, garlic and pepper.
Stuff into artichokes, then drizzle with EVOO.
Follow directions as listed above for artichoke preparation and baking.