Sunday, 26 July 2015

Open Your Heart!

Carciofo Ripieno di Pomodorini Freschi, Mollica, Limone & Erbe Miste
Artichoke Stuffed with Fresh Cherry Tomatoes, Bread Crumbs, Lemon & Mixed Herbs

I just happen to have had discussed how to prepare artichokes with a couple of workmates this week, and upon seeing the beautiful specimen you are seeing right here at the market, I decided I should make myself one all over again...

Just to maybe give them (and all of you good people too of course!), a little reminder of how to make them my favorite way... And also... Just because I can!

I adore artichokes... But I am not a fan of dipping them into vinaigrettes, mayonnaises of dips... As you may already know! My favorite way to prepare them, is in the old-fashioned way, stuffed with breadcrumbs and other good stuff, to make this beautiful blossom into something as delicious tasting as it is wonderful looking!


All I needed to prepare my gorgeous artichoke was: 1 lemon, 1-2 cups of breadcrumbs, 1 small shallot, 4 cherry tomatoes, a little Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, olive oil and some fresh parsley, mint and rosemary. Nice and simple!


I have to admit, I had never seen this beautiful variety of artichoke before and it caught my eye bey it's looks alone... There are so may of different kinds! And this one was gorgeous!

And the best part of the artichoke, as you can plainly see here, is the succulent and tender heart... Which you can see here!


The preparation of artichokes is pretty much the same whichever the size or variety... And you start it off by snapping off the outer leaves, cutting away the stalk and then peeling the stump with a sharp knife, then rubbing it generously over with a lemon to prevent it from discoloring.


Next, trim at least the top 1/3rd from the artichoke and then, using a melon, scoop, remove the "choke" and again, rub the cut surfaces with lemon.

To prepare the breadcrumb filling, finely chop the herbs, shallot and lemon zest, finely dice the tomatoes, grate the Parmesan, season with salt and pepper and add to the breadcrumbs.


Stir together thoroughly and you are ready to rumble!

Spread out the leaves and spoon a little of the breadcrumb mixture in- between, starting from the outside and working your way in... And then fill the hollow in the middle with remaining breadcrumbs until it is full to the top.

Squeeze the juice of half a lemon on top, add plenty of olive oil and then pop into your steamer to cook for between 45-60 minutes.

This was a slightly different version compared to my usual favorite, which I normally make using sun-dried tomatoes, because I decided to use fresh cherry tomatoes this time instead. And normally, I would tend to pop the finished artichoke under the broiler to become crispy and brown on top... But this time, I wanted it to remain juicy through and through and to be packed with the fresh, fruitiness of the tomatoes, which soaked wonderfully into the breadcrumbs along with the lemon and herbs... Delicious!

But get ready to get those fingers dirty!


 How gorgeous and flavor-packed does that look, huh? Pretty delicious-looking, isn't it?


After 45-60 minutes, depending on its size, the artichoke wil be so tender that the leaves easily pull away from the base...


...and that base, the heart of the artichoke, will be the ultimate treat and reward for all of your toils... And once you have finished licking your fingers after the enjoying the leaves, you can finally pick up a fork and enjoy the sweet and tender heart with a topping of tasty breadcrumbs... With a little extra olive oil... To die for!

Only, please don't! I would prefer you all stay alive and go out and try this instead... And then I hope you will all like it!

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