Last week, as we were writing up our recipe for artichoke tapenade, we joked that we have so many artichoke recipes, we easily could pen an all-artichoke cookbook. And we vowed, as we have before, that we would take a few weeks off from using artichokes in our recipes.
But then we walked into our local grocery store, and there in the produce aisle were the biggest artichokes we’d ever seen. And they were buy one, get one free.
We simply couldn’t resist.
We steamed the first artichoke and dipped the leaves in butter, eating it as an accompaniment to grilled steaks and baked potatoes (not exactly a heart-healthy meal but quite delicious), but with the second, we wanted to do something a little more challenging. So we decided to try the one artichoke dish that we had always wanted to make at home but had not yet attempted – an artichoke stuffed with bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and marinara sauce.
As Jerry discovered, it’s not the easiest recipe to prepare. You need to be careful while spreading the artichoke’s leaves, making enough room to add the stuffing while keeping the leaves connected to the base, as well as exercising caution as you scoop out the choke, the mass of inedible, immature florets at the center of the artichoke.
But in the end, when you take your first bite of this Italian delight, we assure you that all the time and effort you’ve invested will have been well worth it. Enjoy!
1 large artichoke
6 to 8 cloves garlic, smashed
2 lemons, cut in half
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup diced onion
1 cup marinara sauce
1 ½ tablespoons fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh oregano (or ½ tablespoon dried)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
Pull off the small bottom leaves around the stem of the artichoke, and cut the stem flush with the bottom of the artichoke so that it will sit flat. Rub lemon immediately over the freshly-cut area to prevent oxidizing (turning brown). Cut the top ¼ of the artichoke off and discard leaf tops, again rubbing lemon over the freshly-cut area.
Place the artichoke (upright) and garlic in a large stockpot with a lid. Squeeze the lemon halves over the artichoke and then add them to the pot. Fill the pot with water until the artichoke is nearly covered. Add 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and continue boiling, covered, for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until the onion is soft, approximately 6 to 7 minutes. Add the marinara sauce, parsley, oregano and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove the artichoke from the water and allow it to rest until it is cool enough to handle. Beginning at the outside of the artichoke and working toward the center, gently press down on the outer leaves to spread them out slightly (they should remain “connected” to the artichoke). Then, using a spoon, scrape out the inner leaves and the choke and discard.
Place the artichoke in a Dutch oven and spoon the stuffing into the center cavity, as well as in between the leaves. Pour 1 inch of water or chicken stock in the bottom of the Dutch oven. Cover and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes.