Saturday, 20 April 2013

Say it with Flowers

Carciofi Ripieni & Arrostiti 
Stuffed & Roasted Artichokes

Artichokes! Wonderful, mysterious, edible "flowers"- sometimes grand scale, sometimes dainty and small- but always distinctive and delicious in flavor. They make a wonderful starter served up in this way, with a tasty bread crumb, herb, lemon and sun-dried tomato filling and are so much more exciting than a silly dip! Whoever thought that silliness up anyway??

No, no- this is a much healthier, tastier way to enjoy fresh artichokes, full of traditional Sicilian flavors and the perfect way to start a meal... these really help to work up your appetite for something yummy! So plan that main course well... or just have enough of these on hand to keep your guests happy!

One really good thing about preparing the artichoke in quarters like this, is that you can remove the "choke" much easier and do it already before you begin cooking and don't have to do it at the table... you are going to have plenty of leaves to get rid of as it is!

To prepare it, I cut off the stalk and plucked away the outer leaves, then cut away approximately the top third of the artichoke, which had the tough, spiky, inedible parts. I then cut the artichoke into quarters, which was when the choke was revealed and plainly visible- and so easy to remove by simply making a straight cut directly beneath it and lifting it out. Simple!

I then prepared the bread crumb filling, adding finely chopped mint and parsley, a little finely chopped garlic, plenty of lemon zest, some finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, salt, pepper and a little grated nutmeg. I stirred these together and then began to spoon a little of this bread crumb filling between the leaves, starting on the outside and working my way in. There is no need to overdo it- just a little of the mixture will soak up all of the added aromas we already have in there, as well as the flavor of the artichoke as it steams.

I added a tiny squeeze of lemon juice to each quarter and a light drizzle of olive oil and steamed the artichoke quarters for 20-30 minutes until they were tender. I then carefully placed them on a baking tray, added a little more oil and then popped them into the oven for a good 4-5 minutes under the broiler, to crisp up and become wonderfully golden brown for some added flavor. 

Yes, these are very simple to make... but after all- it's the little things that mater- and these little things here will matter to you a lot as soon as you start tasting them! Enjoy!

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