I just made artichokes for the first time. Not artichoke hearts - I prepare those frequently enough – I’m talking about the whole artichoke. “How can she call herself an Italian!?!” you ask. I KNOW, it doesn’t make sense. I love eating artichokes and, growing up, my mother did prepare them occasionally, but I have been reluctant to make them myself. I imagined that the process would be fussy and complicated (perhaps because they are a bit fussy and complicated to eat). In fact, they are relatively simple to prepare and require very few ingredients.
The hardest part is “grooming” them – cutting the bottoms off, stripping the outermost leaves, snipping the tips off of the remaining leaves and scooping out the little “fuzzies” (the choke) in the center. A sprinkle of breadcrumbs and garlic, and into the broth they go. That’s it.
This is the kind of food meant to be eaten with your hands and broth dripping down your chin and, yet, it somehow seems elegant and special. I served the stuffed artichokes as an appetizer, followed by a simple pasta and salad. If you have a favorite way to serve them, I’d love to hear about it!
Stuffed Artichokes (Carciofi Ripieni)
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 lemons, sliced
approx. 4 Tbsp. olive oil
After the artichokes have been cleaned and the centers hollowed out, stuff each center with a few slivers of sliced garlic and a teaspoon or so of the breadcrumbs. Separate the leaves and spoon the remaining breadcrumb mixture between the leaves. Sit the artichokes in a pot with about 2 inches of water in the bottom (the water should cover no more than half of the artichoke). Drizzle the olive oil over the artichokes and place a lemon slice on top of each one. Float the remaining lemon slices in the water. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently for approximately 45 minutes. You will know they are done when the leaves can be easily pulled out.
These may be served warm or at room temperature.