And the award for my favorite food goes to ARTICHOKES. Like Bubba said in Forrest Gump, “Artichoke is the fruit of the land. You can boil it, broil it, grill it, bake it, sauté it, steam it. Dey’s uh, deep fried quartered artichokes, grilled halved artichokes, stuffed artichokes, steamed artichokes, artichoke benedict, artichoke pizza, artichoke frittata, artichoke pasta. Pan fried, deep fried, beer-batter fried. There’s butter dipped artichoke, lemon dipped artichoke, dijon dipped artichoke, blue cheese dipped artichoke, dill dipped artichoke, artichoke without a dip. That- that’s about it.”
Okay, so maaaaaaaaybe Bubba was talking about shrimp.. BUT he might as well have been talking about artichokes, one of the most mysterious, yet versatile vegetables on this good green earth. I want to break down the mystery of the artichoke.. but for now, let’s tackle stuffed artichokes. Classically, they are made with butter, olive oil, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley and parmesan (Emeril, Anne Burrell, Epicurious). Ninja style, they are made with all this and so much more.
Ingredients: (for 4 servings)
6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
3/4 jar of sun-dried tomatoes, minced
1 and 1/2 jars (taller size) of oil-marinated artichokes, minced
2 medium-sized yellow onions, minced (I loooove onions. Check out this onion guide if you want to learn more about the billions of types of onions sitting in your grocery store, that should in fact be sitting on your pantry shelf)
6 to 8 baby bella mushrooms, minced
2 egg whites
handful of parsley, minced
A. The stuffing
- Sauté the onions in butter and oil until the begin caramelize. Add the garlic and mushrooms. Cook until it browns and smells delicious.
- In a large bowl, combine the onions, garlic, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichokes, parsley, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, egg whites, and a little bit of olive oil (I like to use the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes jar for extra flavor). Eyeball the amount of breadcrumbs based on the desired consistency of the stuffing (wet, but textured and thick). I’ve never measured breadcrumbs, so sorry I can’t help you out there, but I’d guess you need at least 1 cup? I’ll measure next time.
B. The artichokes
- Cut the stems off the artichokes (do this well, the artichokes need to have a flat bottom to sit properly in the oven) and trim the top sharp leaves. Boil the artichokes and stems in a medium sized pot, covering the artichokes to the extent that you can, and rotating any that are above the surface of the water so they don’t dry out.
- Remove the artichokes when they are 90% to 100% cooked (water is yellowish, artichokes have mellowed in green color, leaves are easily bendible).
- Drain the water. Dice the stems into small pieces and add to the stuffing.
- Use your fingers to spread the artichoke leaves, but without breaking them! Work layer by layer from the outside to the inside. Scoop out the choke and inner pointy leaves if you really love the people you are making these for, otherwise make them do that nasty work.
C. Stuffing the artichokes
- Place the artichokes in a tall baking dish. I like to use bread loaf pans—they perfectly fit two largely stuffed artichokes.
- Stuff the stuffing into the space between the layers of leaves, working from the outside to inside. Heap extra on top and in the middle. Top it with about 1/2 tsp of breadcrumbs, 1/2 tsp of parmesan cheese, and a dash of olive oil.
- Put the artichokes in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is golden and crisping and the top leaves are just beginning to curl and brown.
- Serve these bad boys hot!!
Ruh-roh!!! All this artichoke business still a bit over your head? That’s okay. Read up noob.
- Check out this preparation and cooking guide to learn how to trim, cut, prepare, boil, steam, bake, and grill artichokes.
- Check out this buying guide to learn how to pick, buy, and store artichokes.
- Check out this eating guide to learn how to eat this mysterious prickly beast.