The artichoke is a vegetable that many people love but have little idea what to do with. Maybe it's because it can be tough to get the tough leaves tender. Or maybe, unless you're shown how to prepare them, cleaning and cooking fresh artichokes lacks an easy, intuitive response.
When it comes to handling the fresh thing...it's big, foreign and expensive, so most times we skip right over them and reach for the green beans, or we simply feed our indulgence for this mystifying vegetable in the canned food aisle instead with: marinated artichoke hearts in oil or brine or pureed in dips or mixed in spreads and jams.
This post will, I hope, demystify a vegetable that we want to be friendly with. I'll show you how to clean, stuff and eat a fresh artichoke.
2 large fresh artichokes
1 cup (226.8g) unseasoned bread crumbs (you can use gluten-free if you like)
1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese (optional)
1 cup fresh parsley leaves - chopped
1 large (or two medium) fresh garlic cloves
A drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Rinse and dry each artichoke. Remove the toughest outer leaves along the bottom. With kitchen shears (or scissors) cut the tips of each (except the tender inner leaves) leaf. With a sharp knife slice off the top of the artichoke and the stem (leaving just a short stump so it can easily sit upright in the pan).
Of course after you've cleaned and cut them, you can at this point simply steam them, but this is so much more fun to make and eat.
Chop parsley and garlic into a fine chop and mix with the bread crumbs. Add parmesan if you like. Season with salt and pepper
Spread apart each row of leaves and fill with the bread crumb mixture. When they're filled, set them in a pot just big enough to hold them up. (Three is actually easier than two, but dinner tonight was for two so...). Fill the pot with water reaching almost to the top of the bottom row. (This is why you can't cut the whole stem off - you need some height). Add a slice of lemon to the water to keep them green.
Drizzle each row with some extra virgin olive oil - making sure to drizzle the oil into the
Cover and simmer for about an hour or until the leaves are tender and you can easily pull one out.
Remove when done and place on a plate with a bit more olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper for dipping.
And now for the eating.
The outside of the leaves don't get eaten. It's what's on the inside that counts. So grab a leaf. Hold it from the cut tip and simply scrape the inner goodness between your teeth.
It isn't the most elegant maneuver (which is why I like to eat them at home) but boy are they good. The inside leaves are tender enough to eat whole. And when you get to the core (pictured on the lower right) you'll see it covered with lots of hairy stuff. Don't eat that. It's awful. Pull out the hair to reveal the heart of the artichoke - tender enough to slice with your fork. It's the best part.
If this seems like a lot of trouble, don't be deterred...it's worth the trouble.