Stuffed artichokes are a family favorite. One can find them at most family gatherings.
Everyone in the family has their own techniques.
My recipe uses almonds and salt in place of the grated parmesan cheese.
Steaming the artichokes makes them tender and the breadcrumbs moist.
Artichokes are said to be one of the oldest foods . Greek mythology tells a story of Cynara.
A woman who upset Zeus and he turned her into an artichoke.
Also, in the 16th Century the artichoke was considered an aphrodisiac. It was denied to women and reserved for men.
When buying artichokes look for ones that are dark green and heavy in weight. The leaves should be tight and squeak when rubbed against each other. Store in an airtight bag with a sprinkle of water in the refrigerator.
ITALIAN BREADCRUMB STUFFED ARTICHOKES
Serving size ½ artichoke
3 globe artichokes
2 cups (8oz) plain breadcrumbs
½ cup very finely chopped almonds + 1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
additional olive oil for drizzling
Clean and Prep the Artichokes– *SEE NOTE* Cut off stems so they sit flat. Cut ½ inch off the tops (discard). Rub lemon on artichokes to coat the cuts because artichokes oxidize like apples. Using scissors clip the tops, or pointed part, off each of the leaves (discard). Rinse in water while pulling the leaves slightly apart and opening up the artichoke. Lay upside down in a colander to drain and slightly dry.
Breadcrumb Mixture: Mix together the breadcrumbs, chopped almonds, parsley, and garlic powder.
Stuffing the Artichokes: Pull back an artichoke leaf and spoon in approximately ½ tablespoon of breadcrumb mixture down into the leaf. Do this for all the leaves. I find it is easiest to use a rounded teaspoon or ½ tablespoon measuring utensil. Using one hand, I push the leaf back from the artichoke then use the back rounded part of the tool to assist with holding the leave open while I dump in the breadcrumb mixture.
Steaming the Artichokes: Place the artichokes on a steamer in a large pot. Lightly packing the artichokes together will help support them. Pour enough water into the pot to reach the steaming tray (if you do not have a steamer, place artichokes directly in the pot and pour enough water to cover 1 inch of the bottom of the artichoke). Drizzle olive oil over the breadcrumbs and artichokes. Cover. Bring to a light boil over medium-high and steam for 55 minutes-1 hour 10 minutes or until the leaves pull off easily, the breadcrumbs are moist, and the artichoke meat tender. Keep an eye on the water level in the pot. If it gets too low add more to prevent the water from completely evaporating. When they are tender, remove them and enjoy!
NOTE: The points can be very sharp! Be careful! Use caution if letting children assist with this part! OPTIONAL: Soaking the artichokes in cold water for 5-10 minutes, after they are trimmed, will help loosen them up and make them easier to stuff.
Eating an artichoke can be confusing to people who are not familiar with this unique vegetable. To enjoy the leaves, use your teeth to scrap the meat off the skin of the leaves. Then discard the leaves. The tip of the leaves, where the points are located, tend to be thick with little meat. The bottom to the leaves, closer to the choke (center) typically are tender and have more meat. The heart of the artichoke is delicious and popular. After the choke is removed and the meat is scraped off the leaves, you will find the heart beneath where the choke was located. Cleaning and eating an artichoke takes some work and might take getting use to but it is worth it. Think of it like the crab legs of vegetables. Takes work to prep and eat them but worth the effort!