Seriously Simple: Spring is the time to enjoy these baked stuffed artichokes
This is the beginning of the spring season for fresh artichokes. Don’t worry if they are a little brown, which sometimes comes from a light frost before harvesting. You will usually find that these are the tastiest and have large hearts. Make sure to select globe artichokes that have tight, compact heads and tiny thorns.
At the beginning of artichoke season, I like to cook up a few whole ones and serve them chilled, warm or even grilled. An alternate cooking method is to stuff and bake them. I enjoyed these while visiting Italy, and when I came home, I recreated that taste memory. Baking the artichokes whole preserves their shape.
This recipe fills them with an Italian-influenced mixture of breadcrumbs, tomatoes, garlic, herbs and Parmesan cheese, stuffed between the layers of leaves. As you pull off leaves, you taste both the artichoke and the complementary stuffing. This dish is hearty enough to serve as a vegetarian main course along with a bowl of your favorite vegetable soup or mixed green salad. Consider serving these on St Patrick’s Day since they are green.
Baked Artichokes with Breadcrumbs, Tomatoes and Parmesan
- 4 large artichokes
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
For the filling:
- 3 tablespoons plus olive oil
- 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 3 cups coarse fresh French breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- Freshly ground black pepper
1. Using a serrated knife, slice about 1/2-inch crosswise off the tops of the artichokes to remove the main cluster of thorns. Pull the small leaves off the bottom (near the stem) of the artichoke and discard. Trim the stems flush with the bottoms. Using sharp scissors, cut 1/2-inch off the top of the outer leaves to remove the thorny tips.
2. Fill a large pan half-full of water and add the vinegar and 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Cover the pan and bring water to a boil over high heat. Add the artichokes, cover and simmer until the bottoms (where the stems were) pierce easily, 40 to 50 minutes. (Smaller artichokes will cook a bit faster). Use tongs to remove artichokes and place them on a rack, stems up, to drain as they cool.
4. Meanwhile, make the filling: In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, basil, parsley and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Stir in the breadcrumbs. Mix in the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning.
5. Preheat the oven to 425 F. When the artichokes are cool, turn them upright on their stems and gently pull open the leaves from the center. Pull out the sharp-tipped inner leaves and use a teaspoon to scrape out and discard the fuzzy center in the bottoms.
6. Spoon some of the filling into the center cavity of each artichoke, then spoon the remaining filling in between the outer leaves.
7. Arrange stuffed artichokes in a baking dish. Combine the stock and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a small bowl, and drizzle over the tops of the artichokes. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the stuffing turns golden, watching to make sure the tips of the artichoke leaves don’t get too brown. Serve immediately.
Advance preparation: Artichokes may be prepared one day in advance through Step 5, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before continuing.
(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.)