Wisteria blooms and artichoke leaves….the long awaited spring has sprung here in Pennsylvania! What a magical time as the trees awaken, the flowers peek from their buds, and the chirp of the birds add their own music to the day. I am enjoying my first season entertaining family and friends under my new pergola. This is also my first season watching the slow unflurling of wisteria blooms – what a wonderful sight! Throw in dinner made from the wondrous bounty of spring, served under the pergola……magical.
I know many of you are terrified of artichokes….don’t be! They may take a bit of time to prepare but they truly are simple to clean and prep. This Sicilian-inspired stuffing features mint, capers and anchovies. The reward of the creamy artichoke leaves mingling with the bite of this anchovy and mint laced stuffing is worth the effort. Cleaning and stuffing the artichokes is easier when shared with friends or family and even easier while sipping a nice crisp chilled white wine to put a smile on your face while snipping and stuffing! So call some friends, stuff away and enjoy the magical bounty of spring! Buon Appetito!!
Baked Stuffed Artichokes: Sicilian Style
4 large artichokes
2 cups unseasoned bread crumbs
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
6 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons drained capers
1/2 bunch fresh mint, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup of white wine
3/4 cup of low-salt chicken broth
1 large bowl, 13X9X2 inch glass baking pan
1. Fill bowl with cold water and squeeze the juice of the 2 lemons into bowl. Place the lemon halves in the water as well.
2. Trim the artichokes:
-Cut stem at base so artichoke rests eavenly.
-Cut off about an inch from the top to remove the pointy stems.
-Using a scissors, trim the tips off the rest of the leaves to remove the spiny parts.
-Tear away any tough outer leaves.
-Spread leaves. Using a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out the hairy choke center of the artichoke.
-As the artichokes are cleaned, place them in the lemon water.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, combine bread crumbs, garlic, anchovies and olive oil. Pulse until completely incorporated into crumbs. Pour into medium bowl.
4. Add capers, mint, parsley and stir to combine. Add 1/4 cup of the pecorino romano. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
5. Drain one artichoke. Place on a flat plate. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of stuffing into the center. Then gently pull each artichoke leaf out and spoon stuffing inside leaves. Repeat with each leaf. (Yes, this can be time consuming but the extra effort results in some yummy artichokes!) Use about 1/4 of the stuffing for each choke. Repeat with remaining 3 artichokes.
6. Arrange the artichokes in the baking dish. Drizzle with a generous pour of olive oil over each artichoke. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of pecorino romano cheese.
7. Add the wine and broth to the pan. Cover tightly with foil.
8. Bake until the artichokes are tender – about one hour (check the chokes by piercing the base with a fork or small knife.)
9. Spoon some of the yummy cooking liquid over the artichokes and serve!