Sometimes the simple things are the best. Artichokes are one of my favorite foods. I love them hot, cold, steamed, grilled, cooked into dips, and added to salads. Yesterday I tried something new with them for some friends.
This recipe calls for cooking the artichokes twice; once, steaming them to get the chokes to release and reduce the time in the oven, and twice, baking them with the stuffing to finish them off and to incorporate the stuffing.
Baked Artichokes with Lemon Stuffing
serves 4 as an appetizer, with half an artichoke each
(adapted liberally from Emeril’s “Stuffed Artichokes,” and Giada’s “Baked Artichokes with Gorgonzola and Herbs”)
- 2 artichokes
- 1 lemon
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. whole peppercorns
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/3 cup diced onion
- 1 large clove garlic, finely minced
- 2 tsp fresh herbs, or 1 tsp dried (whatever you like:, thyme, oregano, parsley, etc.)
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- lemon zest to taste (about 1 tsp)
- 1/4 cup grated cheese of your choice (I used pecorino romano and sharp cheddar)
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
On the stovetop, add enough water to a large pot to just come up to the bottom of your steamer basket. Into the water add 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper corns, the bay leaf, and half of the lemon cut into pieces. (Remember to zest it first!)
While the water heats up, prepare your artichokes. Cut off about 1″ of stem (don’t get rid of it all – it’s almost as good as the heart!) and trim it as you would a broccoli stem. Pull off any small, straggling leaves around the bottom of the artichoke. Cut the top 1/4 or so of the leaves off with a large knife, and cut the pointy tips of the rest of the leaves off as well. Kitchen scissors work well for the individual leaves. Place your artichokes top down onto the steamer, and steam for about 20-30 minutes or until just tender.
When the artichokes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half vertically, giving you access to the small leaves and the choke. Pull out the leaves, and scrape out the choke. (I’ve been told a melon baller works wonders with this step but, as I don’t have one, I just used a spoon.) You’ll have little artichoke bowls to hold the stuffing when you’re done with this step.
If you wanted to serve whole stuffed artichokes, then don’t cut them in half. (Duh!) Instead, gently press the leaves apart from the center until you can get to the small leaves and choke, then pull and scoop them out from inside. You’ll then have a well to put your stuffing when it goes in the oven. However, you’ll also need to cut off the entire stem in order to stand them up in the oven.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook for a few minutes until the onion turns soft and translucent. Add the garlic and herbs and keep cooking it for another 30 seconds or until the garlic is fragrant.
Remove from heat and add the bread crumbs, lemon zest, and cheese. Combine with olive oil so that it holds together, and season with salt and pepper to taste. (Depending on the kind of cheeses you use, you may not need the salt at all. I didn’t.)
Mound the stuffing over the center well of the halved artichokes and place in an oven-safe baking dish, drizzling a tablespoon of olive oil over them. A little more cheese wouldn’t hurt at this point either! Carefully pour 1/4 cup of water (or wine, or stock!) into the bottom of the baking dish and place in the oven.
Bake until the artichokes are tender and the stuffing is golden brown with a nice crust, about 15 minutes.