A classic appetizer recipe, particularly in the Spring, these Italian Stuffed Artichokes are bursting with lemon and herb flavors. Plus we’ll take a look at how to prepare an artichoke. They can be tricky!
Eating An Artichoke
Artichokes may look intimidating. And, being from the thistle family, it’s kind of understandable why. But, once you know how to prepare and cook them, they become a tender and fun snack with a smooth and slightly nutty flavor.
The part of the artichoke plant that we eat is actually the flower bud. What look like ‘leaves’ on the bud are actually called bracts. There are outer bracts, which are green or dark purple, and inner bracts which are smaller and tend to be purple or white. At the base of the inner bracts you will find a multitude of pointy fibers that would become the artichoke flower if the bud was left on the plant, this is the choke. At the base of the choke, right above the stem is the prized heart. That’s what all the preparation is for.
So, let’s get started.
How To Choose An Artichoke
When picking out your artichokes, they should feel dense and heavy. The leaves should be firm, bright, and tightly packed. Remember this is a flower bud, and we want the younger buds, because they will be more tender. A loosely backed artichoke means that it is more mature, and your end result will be tougher.
How To Prepare An Artichoke For Cooking
To prepare the artichokes, we need to get past the spiny ends of the bracts.
Cut the top quarter of the artichoke off with a serrated knife. This gets rid of a lot of them. Using kitchen scissors, cut off the points of each leaf that is left.
Then, cut off the stem. (Some people do like to leave the stem on because it is edible. For the stuffed version, we need a level base, so we will be cutting the stem off close to the bottom of the artichoke.)
Artichokes can be cooked at this point, which softens the insides and makes them easier to remove, but since we’ll be stuffing our artichokes, we need to get in there and cut out the inner bracts and choke. Gently loosen the bracts and carefully remove the inner bracts with a pairing knife or kitchen scissors. (This can be the tricky part, because at this point, the inner part of the artichoke is pretty tough and spiny.)
After taking out the inner bracts, you’ll notice a lot of fine fibers. This is the choke, and we’ll need to use a spoon to remove as many of those tiny fibers as we can. (If there are a few left, it’s not the end of the world. The choke is edible, and they are quite easy to remove while you’re eating your artichoke.)
Once cut, rub the artichoke with a lemon slice to keep it from turning grey.
Now your artichoke is ready to stuff!
How To Eat An Artichoke
The smell of these artichokes baking is amazing, but once they’re on your plate, they do still seem a bit un-approachable. Eating artichokes is a slow process, which is why they are typically served as an appetizer, so just get ready to enjoy and slowly savor the lemony breading and nutty artichoke.
The edible part of an artichoke is the heart. To eat the artichoke, pull off each bract and eat the little bit of heart that comes out with it by placing the bract between your teeth and scraping off the soft, nutty flesh at the bottom of the bract. Place the rest of the bract in your ‘finished’ bowl and keep going! In a good artichoke, you’ll have about the bottom third of the bract that is soft and edible.
Once you pick all the bracts off, you’ve made it to the heart! Make sure there aren’t any fibers from the choke still on the heart, and then have at it! This is the smooth and nutty reward for all your hard work!
Our Italian Stuffed Artichokes Recipe
For this recipe, we have stuffed the artichoke with an herb seasoned breadcrumb mixture. The stuffing infuses each bite of artichoke with a wonderful Italian herb flavor!
Italian Stuffed Artichokes
Preparing the Artichokes
- 4 artichokes, firm and bright in color
- 1 lemon, juiced and zested, divided
For the Filling
- 1 ½ c breadcrumbs
- ¼ c + 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- ¼ c + 2 Tbsp Asiago cheese, finely grated
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp basil
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 4 tsp olive oil
For the Bath
- 2 c water
- 1 c Pinot Grigio wine
- Preheat your oven to 400F.
- Using a serrated knife, cut the top quarter off of the top of the artichoke and cut off the stem to create a level base. Snip the tips from each of the leaves, removing the sharp points. Loosen the bracts and using a sharp paring knife or kitchen scissors, cut out the innermost bracts to reveal the fibrous choke. With a spoon, scrape as much of the choke fibers out of the artichoke as you can.
- Brush the prepared artichokes with a little lemon juice to keep them from turning grey while you prepare the filling.
- In a small bowl, mix all filling ingredients and 2 tsp lemon zest until evenly moistened. Spoon the mixture into the center of the prepared artichokes. Loosen the bracts and spoon a little filling between the bracts as well.
- Place the stuffed artichokes in an oven-proof baking dish. Pour the water, wine, and 2 Tbsp lemon juice into the dish and cover it tightly with aluminum foil.
- Bake the artichokes for 1 hour. After one hour, remove the aluminum foil and turn your oven to broil. Broil the artichokes for 3-5 minutes, until the tops are golden.
- Remove the artichokes from the oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.