Carciofi in the Style of Venezia Giulia –
Whoopee for Spring, a great season for veggies! So many new seasonal vegetables hit the markets during this time, with all of us getting excited about finding ways to serve them. Spring is definitely the time that we see artichokes entering the market scene. It’s funny though that people are often hesitant to cook with them. Either they don’t know how or they think it might be a lot of work. Artichokes are not difficult to cook, but they do take a little time. Baby artichokes, however, which make their entrance to most markets in April, are much easier to deal with. In fact, baby artichokes are one of the most wonderful works of spring nature. They have all of the flavor and interest of a regular artichoke without the work! Troppo Bella!
Thus, it makes sense to discuss preparing an Italian favorite – Stuffed Baby Artichokes! This is a dish that some credit to the northern-most region of Friuli – Venezia Guilia which shares a border with Austria and partly nestles in the Carnic and Julian Alps. It is a tiny region rich in ancient Roman history with many ruins to prove it.
However, it is also a dish that can be found in many of the other regions of Italy with slight changes to the stuffing ingredients. In fact, it is one of my favorite dishes that my mother, Loretta, whose family came from Minturno, made. She used the regular sized artichokes. When using these, you must remove some of the tough outer leaves and also remove the nasty little “choke” inside before stuffing. Each whole one can make an entire meal for one person! If you use the big ones, make more stuffing, and cook them up to an hour until tender.
The great thing about the “babies” is that there is no choke to remove. These are so easy and quick to prepare that you just won’t believe it.
(For more great recipes with Baby Artichokes try these posts: Spaghetti With Salmon, Baby Artichokes, and Tomatoes and Baby Artichokes Stuffed With Ricotta.)
STUFFED BABY ARTICHOKES
Serves: 6 as a side dish (2 apiece)
Prep: 35 minutes
Cook: 30-40 minutes
FOR THE STUFFING:
12 Baby Artichokes
Juice of one fresh lemon for soaking
2 c. fresh breadcrumbs (Preferably Italian bread)
2 Chopped Anchovies
2 Cloves fresh garlic chopped finely
1/2 C. Chopped fresh flat leaf Italian parsley
2 Tsp. Fresh Lemon Zest
2 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
3 Tbsp. Capers
3 Tbsp. Pignolis (pine nuts)
4 Tbsp. Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese (grated)
5 Tbsp. Olive Oil (this is the binder)
Salt and Pepper to taste
FOR THE PAN AROUND THE STUFFED CHOKES:
1 c. Olive oil
1 1/2 C. White wine or water or combination of the two
Extra grated or shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano to sprinkle on top of each artichoke
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzle
(If using regular sized artichokes, plan to make more stuffing and cook them longer – about an hour or until the leaves are tender and remove easily from the artichoke. Tasting one is the way to go.)
Mix the ingredients for the stuffing and set aside
For the babies:
Prepare a bowl with juice of 1 lemon and enough water to cover the baby artichokes after you trim them.
To trim: Cut off the baby artichoke stem at the bottom, just so the artichoke will stand up straight when set down. Take off the touch outer leaves. Cur off the pointed tip of the artichoke, making it appear flatter on the top.
Pull the leaves apart gently with your thumbs to open the artichoke a little – so that it kind of looks like a flower. There is no choke to remove in the babies.
Do this all quickly as the trimmed artichokes want to brown when exposed to the air. It takes about 35 seconds per artichoke. Yes, I timed it! Drop them quickly into the prepared bowl of water.
Take out one artichoke at a time and gently push some of the stuffing down between the leaves and into the center. Stand each one in your pan.
Top each one with a little extra grated cheese.
Drizzle with some good Extra Virgin Olive Oil if you like.
Pour the olive oil, white wine and water into the pan around the artichokes.
Cover and simmer on top of the stove for about 30-35 min. or until tender.
Do not allow the liquid to dry up – add more if needed.
Whether using the large “adult” artichokes or the “babies, you will love these. Plan on providing lots of napkins for these STUFFED BABY ARTICHOKES, and watch as everyone licks their fingers! The “hubster” at my house, Tom Hanks, is a huge fan of the babies and can’t get enough of them. Although artichokes are notoriously hard to pair with wine, a beautiful white is my suggestion to enjoy with these – perhaps a nice Vermentino or Sauvignon Blanc.
PARLA COME MANGI!
Comments are welcome in the “Speak Your Mind Area” beneath this post online.
Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography