Raw artichokes are intimidating. Stuffed artichokes look nearly as complex. This classic preparation is how my mom has made artichokes since I was a kid and it has been enjoyed this way since well before I was around. My mom and brother, Pete, love this recipe so much, they consider it one of their favorite dishes. As a child, I wondered what the appeal was — at first, I only saw pointy greenish brown mounds that reeked of garlic and something I couldn’t define, which was the smell of the steamy artichokes themselves. The entire process of eating stuffed artichokes looked complicated, messy and confusing. You pick it apart leaf by leaf and scrape each leaf against your teeth? Ironically, I now love food that is as much about the way you eat it — let’s say, the art of eating it — as the taste itself.
Fortunately, I so rarely disliked any food, that when I tried stuffed artichokes again in my teens, I not only liked them, but wholeheartedly appreciated the method of eating them. I understood the beauty of uncovering the tender inner pieces of the artichoke and the fleshy center. I looked forward to peeling away each layer. Most of all, I came to love the artichokes’ nutty flavor and embrace the breadcrumb, cheesy, garlic-laden goodness. Here’s the recipe as I make it:
- 4 large artichokes
- 1 lemon, cut in half (you may also juice the lemon if you prefer)
- 1 1⁄2 cups unseasoned Italian bread crumbs
- 1 cup, plus 4 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1⁄3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Heat oven to 425°F.
- Put on a tea kettle with roughly 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.
- Using a serrated knife, cut off artichoke stems to create a flat bottom. Cut top thirds off artichokes, and remove and discard tough outer leaves. Trim pointy leaf tips with knife or kitchen shears.
- Rub cut parts with lemon halves (or pour equal parts of fresh juice over each). Using your fingers, open the artichoke leaves to make room for stuffing. (Tip: start at the center and work your way out, then repeat again to ensure you’re getting them loosened as much as possible.) Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, garlice, salt and pepper.
- Working with one artichoke at a time over bowl, sprinkle one-quarter of mixture over artichoke and work it in between leaves, using your fingers. Transfer stuffed artichoke to a shallow baking dish. Drizzle each artichoke with 1 tablespoon of oil.
- Pour boiling water into baking dish to a depth of 1-inch.
- Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil onto a sheet of aluminum foil, and rub across sheet so it is evenly oiled. Cover artichokes with foil (oiled side down), and secure foil tightly around dish.
- Bake about 45 minutes.
- Remove foil, sprinkle tops with 1 tablespoon cheese each, and switch oven to broil. Broil until tops of artichokes are lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.
I’ve tried several other recipes for stuffed artichokes. The only other one I have made more than once is this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis, which features gorgonzola cheese. It’s actually the reason why I added the rubbing of the lemon juice to my mom’s classic recipe.
There is one place I’ve been in this world that serves an abundance of Italian-style artichoke dishes that expand upon the way described in this recipe post, and it’s in the Jewish ghetto neighborhood in Rome, where we experienced Carciofi alla Giudia, commonly known as Roman Jewish artichokes. These warm and nutty fried clusters resemble browned flower blossoms, with crispy edges and tender centers. Finished with little more than a dash of lemon juice, salt and pepper, you can savor the true flavor of the fried artichoke.
But, I digress to memories of a beautiful Roman holiday, filled with inspiring food markets and countless decadent meals…I will keep enjoying this favorite stuffed artichoke recipe until I get back to Italy to taste some more!
Nina lives in Buffalo, NY. An adventurous home cook, she loves to eat, cook, bake & enjoy life. She writes/blogs about food, tweets adventures & other passions.