Artichokes: Roasted, Boiled, Steamed, Microwaved

Stuffed artichokes are one of the most common ways of eating artichokes in Italy.  Provided are two different stuffing recipes for artichokes and two different methods for preparing them.

Native to the Mediterranean, the artichoke is harvested year-round, but more than half of the crop is
harvested between March and May.  The Fall crop usually peaks in October.  The ‘vegetable’ that we
eat is actually the plant’s flower bud.  Most people cook the whole artichoke and slip each petal, one
by one, through their teeth until they reach the tender heart which is entirely edible.    If you’re
intimidated by this unusual-looking vegetable, you’re not alone.  But once you learn the simple
procedure, preparing artichokes is easy.

Trimming an Artichoke

Add the juice from half a lemon to a large bowl of water.  Cut off the artichoke’s stem or peel the stem if it is
a tender baby artichoke.  Peel off the outer leaves starting from the bottom up.  Approximately, 2-3 layers, stop when tender leaves are reached. (Touch and compare to outer leaves to notice difference.)

Use a serrated knife to cut off the entire top one inch of the artichoke.  Gently separate the top
leaves and look into the bottom of the artichoke to find the fibrous choke in the center.  Use a spoon with a
serrated edge or a melon baller to scoop out the choke.  Rub the artichoke all over with lemon juice and
drop it into the lemon water.  Drain before using.

Steaming Artichokes:  Place whole, trimmed artichokes into a steamer basket or on artichoke steamer
racks and place into a deep saucepan with about 1 inch of water in the bottom of the pan.  Bring water to a
simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes depending on the size of the artichoke.  Artichokes are done
when the leaves pull of easily.

Boiling Artichokes:  Boiling is the common way of cooking artichokes.  Place whole for halved trimmed
artichokes in water so that the artichokes are almost covered.  Add flavorings such as lemon, garlic cloves,
and herbs to the water.  Simmer 20 minutes depending on the size of the artichoke.  Artichokes are
done when the leaves pull off easily.

Microwaving Artichokes:  Place trimmed artichokes stem up in a deep microwave-safe bowl.  Add 1-2
inches of water and cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Cook on high 7-10 minutes for medium artichokes and
12-15 minutes for jumbo artichokes.  Keep covered and let the artichokes rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Roasting Artichokes:  Cut trimmed medium size artichokes in half lengthwise.  Place cut sides down on
an oiled roasting pan.  Sprinkle with a few tablespoons of water and cover tightly with foil.  Roast in a 375
degree F. oven for 30 minutes or until tender.  Season with salt.

Artichokes Stuffed with Bread Crumbs, Olives,
Parmesan, Capers, and Herbs

6 medium artichokes
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs (recipe below)
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
4 ounces hard salami
4 ounces provolone or other hard cheese
Olive oil

Artichokes Stuffed with Bread Crumbs,
Salami and Provolone

Trim the artichokes as described above, removing only the tough bottom leaves and snipping the ends off the
others.  Leave the artichokes in the lemon water while you prepare the stuffing.

To make the stuffing:  You can use packaged seasoned bread crumbs or use the recipe below.
Place the bread crumbs, onion, garlic, and Parmesan in a bowl.
Put the salami and provolone in a food processor and process until finely chopped.
Add the salami and provolone to the bread crumb mixture.
Add a little olive oil just to moisten the mixture and help to hold it together.

Put some of the filling into the center of each artichoke and stuff some of the filling between some of the leaves.
Place a steamer basket or artichoke steamer racks into a deep saucepan with one inch of water.
Bring the water to a simmer.  Place the stuffed artichokes in the steamer basket.
Drizzle a little olive oil over each artichoke.
Cover the saucepan and steam the artichokes over the simmering water for about 45 minutes.
Test for doneness by pulling a leaf from an artichoke.
Remove the artichokes from the pan and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6

Seasoned Bread Crumbs
Seasoned bread crumbs are used in the above recipe for artichoke stuffing but
they can also be used as a costing for fried poultry, meat, fish, or vegetables.  You
can store the bread crumbs in storage bags in your freezer for up to a year.

4-5 cups coarse bread crumbs
3/4 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese
1-1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients until blended.