Steamed Artichoke with Herb-Breadcrumbs & Sun-Dried Tomatoes
They may be large, firm and kind of aggressive-looking, but to all extents and purposes, artichokes are indeed nothing more than huge flowers. And they may not be very fragrant, but they are SO delicious, let me tell you!
This preparation dates back to the days of the great depression, when Italian and Sicilian housewives would fill the spaces between the leaves of the artichokes with bread-crumbs, to make it into a more substantial meal- because as we all know, we end up throwing more of the artichoke away than we actually eat... so let's make the part that we DO eat as wonderful and delicious as possible!
First of all, lets prepare those bread crumbs for our filling. I used finely chopped onion, garlic, parsley, mint and sun dried tomatoes. I then grated in some lemon zest, salted ricotta cheese and nutmeg. Yum! Mix everything together well, but whilst you are doing that, get your water boiling in your saucepan- all we need to do now is to stuff that artichoke and we can get cooking!
There is a little prep work involved with the artichoke, but it is really simply. Cut off the stalk and a little of the base, so that you have a flat surface to rest the artichoke on. Now, trim the ends from the leaves- the tips are inedible anyway, but by cutting them off, you allow steam into the leaves which makes them cook better and faster. Spread the leaves out a little and then start filling the spaces in between with the breadcrumb mix- make sure to stuff the artichoke generously and to press it closed again to keep everything in. I added a few sprigs of rosemary and some shredded lemon peel just to add a nice, fresh aroma and the sun-dried tomatoes the last of all... wow! Amazing- but you should now be ready to steam this baby... it is going to take a while though... so be prepared!
I set the artichoke on top of a steam rack in a saucepan that was just barely large enough and kept it steaming under a closed lid for 45 minutes. After that time, the leaves were soft and easy to pull out, the bread crumb filling had become soft, juicy and full of flavor from all of those good ingredients- and the whole thing just looked and smelled wonderful!
A last drizzle of olive oil and all I can say is buon apetito... grab yourself a bottle of Corvo, light yourself some candles... and let a wonderful evening meal begin!