13 May 2014

Stuffed artichokes

I recently wrote a blog about growing globe artichokes. Since then the artichokes carried on growing, and I harvested the first two a day or so ago. I prefer to pick them relatively small (about the size of a cricket ball). Picking them also encourages the plant to produce more artichokes.

When it comes to how to cook globe artichokes, the Italians are the masters, be it thinly sliced in a risotto, preserved under oil, grilled on the ashes of a dying barbecue, or as I once had in a Jewish restaurant in Rome, whole and deep fried. I decided to stuff my first harvest, based on a Sicilian recipe, which allowed me to incorporate one of my other favourite spring vegetables - wild garlic leaves.

The first artichoke harvest

Stuffed artichoke recipe

It's best to use smallish artichokes for this recipe, otherwise you will have a hard job removing all the hair from the centre of the choke. This recipe serves two people.


2 medium-sized globe artichokes
1 small bunch wild garlic leaves (or if wild garlic is not in season, 1 finely chopped garlic clove)
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley
1 small bunch mint
1 tbs bread crumbs
2 tbs freshly grated parmesan
zest 1 lemon, finely grated
extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
pinch of sea salt

The stuffing

You can make the stuffing in a food processor, but I think a better texture is obtained by making it by hand.

1. Finely chop the herbs.
2. Add them to a mixing bowl along with the lemon zest, breadcrumbs and grated parmesan.
3. Stir in some extra virgin olive oil. Enough to make the stuffing come together, but stop pouring before the stuffing becomes like pesto.

The artichokes

4. Break off the outermost leaves from the artichoke and trim the stem off so that each artichoke can sit on its base. It's important to cut the stem off straight so that the choke can sit more-or-less upright
5. Hold each artichoke upside down and knock it against your work surface a couple of times to open the leaves up a little.
6. Carefully tease the leaves apart so you can get into the centre of the artichoke. Using a teaspoon, carefully remove all the hair from the centre of the artichoke. Your diners won't thank you if they end up with a mouth full of artichoke fur!
7. Fill the cavity you've created at the centre of the artichoke with the stuffing mixture. Try to pack a little extra between the leaves. Fold the leaves back over the stuffing.
8. Stand the artichokes upright in a pan (this is why it's important to trim the stems off accurately).
9. Pour the juice of 1 lemon in to the pan, and top up with water so the artichokes are sitting in about 2cm of liquid. Make sure you pour the water around the artichokes, not on top.
10. Put a lid on the pan and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for about 20 mins until the artichokes are cooked through. To test if cooked through, you should be able easily to pull away one of the leaves.

To serve
11. Sprinkle with a little sea salt, and serve with some good quality olive oil.
12. Tear off the outer leaves and dip them in the oil, eating the soft flesh off the end of the leaves.
13. After you've eaten a few of the outer layers of leaves, you should be able to eat all the rest of the choke and the stuffing.

To serve

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