Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Finger Lickin' Good Food!

Carciofo Ripieno di Mollica, Pomodori Secche, Parmigiano, Menta & Limone
Artichoke Stuffed with Bread Crumbs, Sun-Dried Tomato, Parmesan, Mint & Lemon


There is finger food- and there is FINGER FOOD... like artichokes! Although they are pretty things, I am not the greatest lover of flowers... unless I can eat them that is! Zucchini blossoms or cauliflower are higher on my list of favorites than roses- haha! And artichokes on a higher level still!

I especially love them when they are filled with tasty bread crumbs this way... the old way! Just like in the old days... waaay before I was born of course!


Most people think of artichokes as stiff little leaves to dip into oil or some dressing and to suck on... but they are so full of lovely flavor it seems a shame to not expand on it and make more of a meal out of them!

There are many ways to stuff an artichoke... and this was the way I prepared mine this evening, with plenty of mint and parsley, plenty of sun-dried tomatoes (6 slices in this case), 1 Spring onion, around 3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan, the zest and juice of a lemon and some good olive oil. Poor peoples food that will make you feel as rich as a king!


What I love about this preparation is that all of the good flavor of the artichoke gets soaked into those breadcrumbs, it combines with the herbs, tomatoes and cheese and sticks nicely to the leaves... making them so much more satisfying! Yes... I like!


To season and supe-up those bread crumbs, finely chop the herbs, onion and sun-dried tomatoes and finely shred the zest of around half a lemon.


Stir-in with the breadcrumbs with a little and plenty of pepper and get ready to get working on your artichoke!


There are many varieties of artichoke out there and just like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get, till you get inside!

Some artichokes have leaves that will open-up and pull apart easily... making them easy to fill right from the beginning... and some are stubborn, like this one was!


As the leaves were so tightly grown together and would not open without them breaking, I cut the top off the artichoke, plucked away the toughest of the outer leaves and steamed it for 30-45 minutes in order to get those leaves to open up for me and reveal what was inside! Beautiful, isn't it?


As I mentioned already, each variety is different- some have leaves inside that are lovely and tender to eat- sadly this one didn't- and so I removed them! And look at that huge thatch of choke in there... talk about natural blonde!


I carefully cut around the outer edge of the choke to make things easier and then scooped it out using a spoon... that stuff has to go! It is not called "choke" for no reason!


I then spooned-in the filling... plenty of it! Into the center of course but also especially in-between the remaining outer leaves... and then popped it back into my saucepan to steam for a further 10-15 minutes.


After that time, the leaves were moist and tender- as was the filling... and the smell was incredible! The next step was to give it a generous drizzle of olive oil and to transfer it to a pre-heated oven, for around 10 minutes, on a high shelf, to get the bread crumbs a little crispy around the edges and to give it a mildly roasted flavor.


And that, to me, is a beautiful and aromatic flower! Again... you can keep the roses- give me one of these babies instead!


Take a closer look... you know you want to!


 And then, without further ado... pluck apart those leaves and begin to enjoy!


It really is "finger-lickin' good!" and the best comes at last of course... because you still have that juicy and tender and tasty heart to look forward to!


Maybe a little messy... but definitely a lot of fun! Time to get your fingers dirty people! It's well worth it!

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