Before I stuffed these artichokes, I boiled them. While they were left to cool, I enjoyed a few by pulling off each leaf and sliding the tender part in between my teeth. Not before dipping one by one in a pizzimonio made of oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. A mechanical and continuous, pull, dip, eat took place, as I worked my way through the leaves to the core and most tender part. Sopping the heart of the artichoke with the remaining pizzimonio, made the big last succulent bite end in a satisfying finger lickin' gesture.
Perfect timing, the artichokes are now cool and I'm ready to start stuffing.
adapted from The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
by Deborah Madison
serves 6 stuffed artichokes
6 boiled artichokes
400 gr fresh bread crumbs
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp of Parmesan cheese, grated
3 hemp tbsp herbs (mint, parsley, thyme), freshly chopped
3 tbsp olives (I used olive taggiasche, but black or green olives work well too), chopped
3 tbsp capers, rinsed and chopped
1 tbsp vinegar
1 glass of water with a squeeze of lemon juice
Remove the steams from the artichokes cutting them 1 cm from the base. Rinse them under cold water and leave them whole (without removing any leaves). Place the artichokes in a pot and cover with fresh water. Boil for 15 minutes or until the bottom is tender but firm. Check by sliding the tip of a knife at the center base of the artichoke. Let the artichokes cool off.
Make an artichoke containers by reaching inside each artichoke and pulling out the center leaves helping yourself with a spoon. Put the tender leaves aside because you will put them in the bread crumbs later. Leave the rest of the leaves attached, even if they are tough they will help keep the artichoke together and can be removed later.
Make your own fresh bread crumbs with a food processor. Leave them roughly chopped. Toss the bread crumbs in a preheated pan with 4 tbsp of oil until crisp and golden. Remove the bread crumbs from the pan and place in a big bowl. Add the herbs, garlic, cheese, olives, capers, chopped inner artichoke leaves that were removed previously, and vinegar. Salt and pepper to season. Firmly pack the bread crumb mixture in each artichoke.
Place the artichokes in a baking pan large enough to hold them comfortably, drizzle with the remaining oil, 1 glass of water and dust the top of each artichoke with some extra grated Parmesan cheese. Cover with some parchment paper and then aluminum foil. Bake until heated through for about 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 190ºC. Remove the cover and brown under the broiler.
HOW TO EAT THE ARTICHOKE
Since the harder leaves have not been removed, allowing the artichoke to work as a solid container, it's time to remove them now. Remove the external harder leaves and begin to eat the artichoke from the inside-out. Slide the tender bottom part of each leaf in between your teeth, and discard the tougher part and most external leaves. Enjoy the center filling most and it's flavoured heart-a-choke.