Italian Stuffed Artichokes

The roadside stand that we stopped at on our way back home this weekend had nice big artichokes that I was able to nab for this lovely dish. The very first time I had an artichoke was in my foreign language class back in high school. At the time, I thought that I would probably end up in veterinary school, so I was taking Latin. One of our projects was to bring in food from ancient Rome. Being an over achiever, I brought in a yeast risen semolina bread from a recipe that was supposedly from the ancient Roman empire. Now, I would be pretty suspicious of any recipe touting itself as “ancient” and calling for rapid rise  yeast granules, pretty sure that is not how ancient Romans went about making bread, but at the time, no eyebrows were raised.

My friend brought in steamed artichokes with drawn butter and lemon juice. Dipping the leaves into the unctuous butter and acidic lemon, then drawing them across my teeth, those sparks ignited in my food memory bank, what a yummy combination. Bringing home artichokes this weekend, I wanted to go few steps further and stuff the leaves with a highly spiced bread mixture.

Luckily, I keep homemade croutons stocked in my kitchen at all times. The fatty element I chose was olive oil and the acidic element was red wine vinegar. The croutons absorb the vinegar and olive oil to make a light flavorful stuffing. These can be prepared a day ahead and gives the seasonings enough time to blend and the cook enough time to be relaxed on the day that they are served.

Italian Stuffed Artichokes

Italian Stuffed Artichokes
Italian Stuffed Artichokes

4 medium to large artichokes

1 cup water plus additional for steaming

4 cups croutons, crushed into fine crumbs

5 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, minced

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Cut off the stem flush with the base and cut of the top one third (the prickly leaf ends) of each artichoke. Pour water to a depth of about 3 inches into a large pot or deep pan, place a steaming rack in the bottom of the pot or pan and bring the water to a boil over high heat. PLace the artichokes, stem end up, on the rack. reduce the heat to medium, cover and steam until the base of the artichoke offers little resistance when pierced with the tines of a fork, about 30 minutes. The timing will depend on the size and maturity of the artichokes.

Remove the artichokes from the steamer and set aside until cool enough to handle. Then, using a spoon, scoop out the central leaves from ech artichokeand remove the thistles and furry bits, to make a cavity about 1 1/2 inches wide. Set the artichokes aside.

In a bowl, combine the 1 cup water and the croutons. Stir to moisten the crumbs evenly. Let stand just long enough to soften the bread, anywhere from 15 seconds to several minutes, depending on how dry the bread is and how coarse the crumbs are. Squeeeze the crumbs dry and transfer to a clean bowl.

Add the vinegar and parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt if needed. The mixture will appear fluffy but dense enough to hold it shape if squeezed into a ball.

Spoon stuffing into the hollowed out cavity of an artichoke. Pry back a layer of leaves and tuck stuffing at the base of the leaves. Repeat. The artichoke will expand like a flower.

Squeeze lemon juice over each artichoke and drizzle with olive oil. Eat immediately or cover the artichokes with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 8 hours, before serving. If you refrigerate, let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

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16 thoughts on “Italian Stuffed Artichokes

  1. That was a long time since I had this …. it was during me visit to Rome – feels like million years ago,- think it was 1980 – and a good friend took me to Castel Gandolfo, where the pope has his summer residence – and we had lunch a small and very plain restaurant – only time I had stuffed artichokes. It was delicious. Ages since I cooked an artichoke too. Like the read of this.

  2. This sounds wonderful – and thanks for the story about your Latin lessons, sound more fun than mine were.
    Years ago when i was in France I ate stuffed tomatoes and they were so delicious but I never could work out the filling and have never been able to replicate it… I think your stuffing recipe sounds very close, I must try it and find out if it’s the one!
    Thanks for this post!!

    1. THanks. Yes, this filling would be great to stuff tomatoes with. You could even add a little minced basil and some pecorino romano or parmigiano reggiano to the mix and that would be delightful for tomatoes.

      1. That does sound gorgeous – I’m sure what i ate would have had herbs; it was in the south of France so all those lovely Provencal flavours… mmmm, I’m making myself hungry!

  3. Can’t wait for affordable artichokes. I’ve never stuffed them before- but I think my guy would like it because he doesn’t eat much butter (really that’s his only fault!)

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