Unfortunately, my time here is coming to an end. I want to go out with a bang — I figured I’d put my skills to the test and report back for my final article.
I was in the mood to experiment a little bit, so I went to the market for some inspiration. First stop: produce. If you’re picturing well-stocked, Whole Foods-esque shelves with wide varieties of fruits and vegetables, prepare to be let down. Italian grocery stores don’t function like ours — you get what’s in season, and that’s pretty much it. My choices for a fall/winter Italian recipe were relatively limited: root vegetables, a selection of squashes (not really my thing), eggplant and artichokes. It was Sunday and I wanted a project — I went with the artichokes.
Stuffed artichokes are a classic recipe in my family and across Italy. While I’ve enjoyed the fruits of my grandmother and father’s labor for years, I’ve never actually attempted them myself. Being the overly confident gal that I am, I dug into my memory and grabbed the other ingredients that rang a bell.
First, I prepped my artichokes: rinsed, trimmed leaves and cut off the stems (save the stems!!). Then, I took some lemon halves and rubbed them all over my artichokes, squeezing them in between the leaves. To be honest, I don't know if this is a real technique — but I like my artichokes with lots of lemon, so this seemed like a nice touch.
Now onto my filling! (I want to preface this by saying I based all proportions on what felt right … if you’re making this recipe, just taste it at every step and you’ll be fine.) In a bowl, I combined breadcrumbs, parmesan, finely chopped parsley and shallot, salt and pepper. I took my stems from earlier, gave them a quick sauté with some minced garlic and added them to my mixture as well. I also added a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of a lemon to help the mixture hold together.
I added about 1 inch of water, the juice of a lemon, a few lemon wedges, parsley, shallot and a splash of very cheap sauvignon blanc to a large pot. I could’ve just used water, but I thought my precious artichokes deserved an aromatic bath. I layered my breadcrumb mixture in between every leaf and gently lowered my creations into the pot.
Now to the most painful part: after I topped with some olive oil, covered the pot and had to wait for 45 minutes. When my timer finally went off, I removed the lid and was met with a delicious cloud of steam. They looked beautiful! For a finishing touch, I added a chunk of butter to each artichoke and covered it up for a few more minutes before serving.
Not to toot my own horn, but … these were SO GOOD. Now prepare to be impressed — I’m about to really tie this whole thing together.
Artichokes are intimidating. You might see them in the grocery store and think to yourself, “I could never make those!” It turns out artichokes are a lot like studying abroad. Scary at first, completely what you make of it and definitely worth it.
To my loyal readers, (mainly my grandparents), I love you! Cheers!