Stuffed Artichokes Italian Style Step By Step

stuffed artichokes

The holidays are coming and I can’t think of a better recipe to be posting right now. As a kid stuffed artichokes were always a part of our holiday dinners or special celebrations. Throughout the years I’ve kept that tradition going making them for my own family as well as my husbands. Stuffed artichokes are one thing that’s always requested on the menu.

Thanksgiving food plate

This is a picture of last years Thanksgiving day plate and there’s my stuffed artichoke proudly displayed as one of my sides, I can make a meal of just that, but hey it’s the holidays and its time to splurge!

artichokes

The hardest thing about making stuffed artichokes is searching and seeking out good ones, I definitely go on a search and seek mission to find the best. It usually go to a few different stores or call ahead and talk to the produce guys who can assure me they will set aside a fresh case for me when they arrive.

You’re looking for fresh, firm artichokes with no signs of being discolored, dried or shriveled up.

prepping artichokes

I always say stuffed artichokes are a labor of love, especially when making them for a crowd. No doubt about it, there’s going to be prep involved and it can be time consuming if you’re making a bunch but hopefully this step by step will help ease the process because it’s sure worth it in the end like all good things.

Step 1: Slice off the bottom stem so it can sit upright nicely in a pan, then pull off any lower leaves that look gnarly.

Step 2: Take a very sharp knife or even a good serrated knife and slice off the top third where the artichoke comes to a point.

Step 3: Grab your scissors and snip off the tips of the remaining leaves as pictured above, then open the leaves gently and give it a good rinse.

Step 4: Rub the entire cut area with a fresh lemon to prevent discoloration.

steaming artichokes

I to do a two step method, first steaming the artichokes unstuffed, then into the oven to bake for a while stuffed.

Place them in a sturdy bottomed pot which has a lid and fill it with water half way up to the chokes.

Into the pot I add some roughly chopped garlic cloves, lemon slices, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil on each artichoke. Doing this gives them a nice flavor and the olive oil helps tenderize the leaves and the bonus is that the flavored steaming liquid can be used again at the bottom of the baking dish when they go into the oven to bake, this will help prevent them from drying out. 

steaming artichokes

Depending on how many I’m making I might have a couple of pans going at the same time, but keep in mind this part can be done ahead of time, like the day before.

You’ll know their done when you can tug at a leaf and it comes right off with ease. Be careful not to overcook them where the artichoke just flops open and almost falls apart, it needs to be intact. Keep in mind it’s still going to be put into the oven.

When finished steaming take them out, drain the liquid from the chokes and let them cool completely on a rimmed baking sheet. At this point you can place them in the fridge overnight and continue the second part of the process the next day if you choose to do that, but remember to reserve the steaming liquid.breadcrumb stuffing

In the meantime you’ll want to mix up your stuffing. One thing I like to point out is that I don’t like using bread crumbs that are super processed in a can and almost look like powder. I have however made my own or have mixed them with a good quality bread crumb that is unseasoned. FYI, I do like Whole Foods in house breadcrumbs, you’ll find them in the bakery section they’re very good with a nice, course texture like homemade.

I must confess I don’t really measure out the stuffing mixture because it will all depend on how much stuffing you personally like to fill them with and how many artichokes you’re making,  but here’s a rough estimate.

Grab a bowl and add your breadcrumbs, start with maybe three cups, then add a good amount of grated pecorino romano cheese, a generous cup or so (I never use parmesan), add some garlic that is finely grated on a microplane about 3 cloves, then lemon zest and a nice bunch of chopped fresh parsley, taste it for salt and pepper adjusting the seasonings to your liking. Then drizzle olive oil onto the mixture until it feels like wet sand.

If you need more, make more, if you made too much put it in a container and keep it in the freezer.

 

prepping artichokes

Are you still with me? Don’t bail your almost there! Now lets talk about the inner spiny choke. Back in the day when I first got married and made these I never removed the choke, I just stuffed them as is. But over the years I much prefer removing all that un edible mess before I stuff them. This is another reason why they are a true labor of love, but in the end it will be a much more pleasant eating experience.

Now because you have them pre-cooked and cooled down, even done the night before like I mentioned, the spiny choke is super easy to remove with either a grapefruit spoon or just a plain spoon.

It’s truly worth the effort. I just sit at my table with the TV on or some music going and take my time removing all of it, right above the precious and coveted heart which you leave in tact.

prepping artichokesstuffing artichokes

While you’re sitting in the same spot with the music or TV going start to stuff them, take your time and spread out each and every leaf gently adding a bit of  the bread crumb stuffing to each. I just use a teaspoon and go around and fill each one as well as the center. I’ll be the first to admit it’s time consuming, but again so worth it!stuffed artichokes

There are a couple of different ways to nestle them into a pan, I like them to have room, some artichokes are really large, I like using those big foil pans if making a bunch. Sometimes I place balls of tin foil in between so they don’t fall over if I don’t have enough to help them stand up straight.

 

stuffed artichokes

To finish them off  for the last phase of baking, drizzle each stuffed artichoke all over with olive oil then place a thinly slice of lemon on top of each one.

Next spoon some of that steaming liquid that was saved on the bottom of the pan, then cover the whole pan with heavy duty foil.

Place the covered pan into a 375F. oven for about 30 minutes, and that’s it! But to be absolutely sure peek underneath the foil and grab a leaf or two to test it out. The stuffing should be nice and moist with a slight crunch and the artichoke nice and tender.

 

stuffed artichokes

It doesn’t matter how many you make the process is the same, stuff each leaf.

stuffed artichokes

Add lemon slices, liquid and bake.

stuffed artichokes

If you have leftovers or give some away no worries they’re excellent the next day or two after, just warm them up and enjoy!

stuffed artichokesstuffed artichokes

Honestly you could just leave me in a corner with one of these beauties and I’m a happy camper, let the festivities begin!

Follow me on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week.

Signature

How To Make Grilled Artichokes Italian-Style

grilled artichokes

 

Today I’m going to show you step by step how to make grilled artichokes, a must for summer entertaining. This is my favorite side dish and sometimes appetizer to make during the the grilling season. Present a big platter of these smoky grilled artichokes to your guests and watch them disappear quickly. I’m certain you’ll be making them over and over throughout the season.

These lovelies are lightly stuffed, not with the traditional breadcrumb mixture but with the pronounced flavor of grated parmesan, or pecorino cheese, fresh parsley and lemon zest. The grill adds a smoky dimension and the cheese mixture when melted through the layer of leaves, takes the flavors over the top!

grilled artichokes

 

And if that’s not enough to rock your world you can dip each leaf into a simply made bright and citrusy lemon and garlic aioli. The recipe for the aioli will be provided at the end of the post, but first lets get these artichokes prepped because you can’t put them straight on the grill raw, they have to be pre-cooked by either steaming or boiling them first.prepping artichokes

Choose a nice medium sized fresh artichokes, you’ll want to cut the very end of the stem off, then if the stem is long enough use a veggie peeler and peel the top layer off of the stem, because that’s edible too.

Remove and tear off the small leaves at the bottom of the artichoke by hand then turn it on it’s side and with a sharp serrated knife cut about a third of the top off all the way through, then immediately rub all the cut surfaces with a raw lemon, because artichokes oxidize fast.

If you see any remaining outer leaves that have a pointy top just snip the tip off with a pair of scissors, remember rub all cut surfaces with lemon.

Now turn the artichoke cut side down and slice it right through the middle like I did in the photo above leaving the choke and spiny thistle fuzz in tact. It’s so much easier and neater to remove it all after they’ve been cooked and become tender throughout.

I like to steam my artichokes in water in a pot that has a lid. I throw in a few slices of lemon, whole garlic cloves, salt, pepper and a good drizzle of olive oil. Get the water to a boil then simmer it down and put the lid on.  The cooking time varies according to the size of the artichokes that you have, but a good rule of thumb is if you can tug at a leaf and it comes off easily with no effort they’re pretty much done, but taste it to make sure.

Take the cooked artichokes out with tongs making sure the water is drained out by turning them upside down, then set aside and let them cool down.

 

prepping artichokes

To clean the insides of all the spiny chokes I like to use a grapefruit spoon to gently scrape it out, like I said it comes out really easy after the artichokes are steamed.

Now at this point if you were making them for a party the prep is done, you could refrigerate them as is ready to be stuffed for the day you’re going to be grilling them.

Try not to be intimidated by the steps above, it’s really pretty easy and once you get the hang of it everything else is a breeze.

stuffing artichokes

As for the cheese mixture there are no specific measurements, again it all depends on how many artichokes you’ll be making, just grab a bowl put a handful or two of grated parmesan, pecorino or even a mix of both, the zest of one lemon and a handful of chopped parsley, if you need more, make more as you go, there’s no set rule here.

Take a spoon with some of the cheese mixture on it and stuff it into the layered artichoke leaves, you don’t need to over stuff it, a little on each leaf layer is fine.

Finally drizzle olive oil all over the top with a few grinds of black pepper, you won’t need salt because the cheese is salty enough.

grilled artichokes

Get your grill nice and hot, I put mine on high, then place them cut side down and don’t move them until you see deep golden char marks. The cheese mixture will also be melty and slightly crispy, at this point they’re done just take them off  because you don’t need to flip them over, remember they’re already cooked through.

grilled artichokesgrilled artichokes

Cheesy goodness with a nice smoky dimension all throughout, delicious warm or at room temperature.

grilled artichokes

If you haven’t had a grilled artichoke yet I promise you you’re in for a special treat!

grilled artichokes

Now for that citrusy aioli for dipping that I promised you, go grab a bowl and add a few big tablespoons of good quality mayo, one smashed or grated garlic clove, lemon zest and enough fresh lemon juice to thin it out into a dipping consistency with some salt and pepper to taste, I told you it was easy!

Now go ahead and make some grilled artichokes, happy grilling!

Signature

I’ll Be Detoxing Until 2010!

I thought I’d leave you with a little visual of why I’ll be eating nothing but salads all week.
My refrigerator is stocked with all kinds of veggies and various forms of greens.

And these are some of the reasons why!

And it was all repeated the next day with the leftovers!


I won’t even mention the desserts and cookies!
See you all soon.

Signature

CONTORNI (SIDE DISHES)

The other day while I was visiting some of my favorite blogs, I came across a post by Peter of Kalofagas Greek Food & Beyond. He was talking about how he was going to try and feature more side dishes. He felt that sides got little attention compared to the main course, we as bloggers often feature. My thoughts exactly!!! In fact in my house we’re all about the sides! Especially with grill season starting its fun to get creative with different sides to have with your main course. Below are a few of our favorites, and as grilling season gets reved up I’ll be posting more!

VEGETABLE GIARDINIERA
Cook in salted boiling water for 3 min. cauliflower, sliced carrots,and celery. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a tray lined with paper towels. Cool vegetables.
In a large bowl add green and your favorite black olives, drained artichoke hearts, minced garlic, drained eggplant salad, chopped red onion, and all of your cooled down veggies.
Make a vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper, dried oregano, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Refrigerate till cool.
FRESH GREEN BEAN SALAD
Precook your green beans, make sure they still till have a bite to them. Drain and cool them down.
In a large bowl add cooled beans, kalamata olives, red onion, garbanzo beans, and chopped fresh tomato’s. Toss like a salad with red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper, and granulated garlic. Delicious at room temp, or chilled.

STUFFED TOMATOES WITH RICE
I use the tomatoes on the vine, slice a little off the top, scoop out the pulp and place in a bowl.
arrange scooped out tomatoes on a baking tray lined with foil. Set aside.
Smash up the pulp a little, add to that your cooked risotto, parsley, basil, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper, mix well.
Spoon filling into prepared tomatoes, drizzle olive oil all over them, roast until tender and soft.
Depending on how big your tomatoes are it could take up to 40 min. at 400 degreesF.
Serve at room temp.
STUFFED ARTICHOKES
Prepare artichokes by trimming leaves and stems, then steam them just until the leaves pull off easy. Set aside.
In a bowl add flavored dry breadcrumbs, or fresh, add garlic, fresh chopped parsley, grated romano cheese, salt and pepper, moisten mixture with some olive oil.
Stuff each leave with the mixture, take your time go all around the artichoke. Place them in a baking dish and place them in a 375 degreeF. oven till heated through. Garnish with lemon.

Hopefully this will encourage all of you to “show your sides”! I’ll be looking forward to seeing all of your creations!

BUON APPETITO!!
Signature

POST TURKEY DAY REFLECTIONS!!!

I’m sure everyone is out of their” Turkey Coma’s” by now, and have eaten their leftovers at least once! I know we have! I hope every ones dinners came out fantastic and you all got to enjoy your day with family and friends!! There will be no recipes on this post, because we all have our specialties that our family’s love, just a few pictures of the main characters.

This actually was the first time I didn’t stuff the bird ( believe me, I heard about it!!) But I wanted to do something different since my kids won’t let me put a modern twist on any of the old standbys. And besides it was a 24lb. bird and it would have took forever to cook!

So I just stuffed it with a bunch of fresh herbs, lemon, and whole garlic cloves. I also rubbed the outside with butter and herbs. I tried to make it look pretty by stuffing fresh sage under the breast skin,but that didn’t turn out as nice as I wanted it to. But at least the turkey had a lot of flavor!!!

One of the highlights in my family is of course, stuffed artichokes, a favorite for “special occasions” I searched for 3 days to find some decent ones, then I finally came across these beauties!! They were huge, un– blemished, with plenty of room to stuff them. I steamed them first to get them tender, then I baked them. They weren’t cheap, but they were worth every penny!

Our deserts consisted of pumpkin pie, lemon bars, chocolate cake, banana cake w/carmel frosting, and to top it off my daughter made some killer gingerbread lattes!!! The day was filled with family, food, games with my Granddaughter, movies for the guys, Shriek3 for B, and holding a new baby.
When it was all said and done, we had a ton of leftovers!!! so everyone got a nice care package when they left! Even my daughters dogs!!

Looking forward to reading all of your blogs!!!

Signature