We’re nearing the end of peak artichoke season here in California (and for the rest of you, too, I suppose, since the vast majority of the spiky thistles are grown here) and I’m not ready to let it go. I’ve braised them for a composed salad with prosciutto, steamed them and broke down pounds of them into a soup, a recipe that was not worth the effort involved. (My kitchen looked like an artichoke crime scene and the soup tasted like lawn clippings. I’ll be keeping that one to myself.) Better to stay simple: stuffed and steamed. Breadcrumbs, salty-nutty Pecorino, herbs, pepper and garlic. What could be better?
At the market, look for heavy globe artichokes with tightly closed leaves; ones that have opened are past their prime and will have a tougher texture. Outer leaves that give a little squeak when rubbed are another good indication of freshness. And if you’re interested in simply steaming them and serving with a bit of melted butter or fresh mayonnaise for dipping (delicious), you can always skip the seasoned breadcrumbs and follow the directions as is.
adapted from Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Mad Hungry, 2009
- 3 large artichokes
- 1/2 C +2 Tbsp bread crumbs
- scant 1/2 C Pecorino Romano
- 2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- 2-3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 lemon
- ground black pepper
- olive oil for drizzling
Have your lemon ready to rub all the cut surfaces and keep from browning. With a serrated knife, trim the stem off the artichoke. Cut off the top third of the artichoke. Remove the tough outer leaves and snip off any thorny tips with kitchen shears or scissors.
In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, garlic, parsley and cheese. Season well with freshly ground black pepper. With your thumbs, pry open the artichoke leaves slightly and stuff with the seasoned breadcrumbs. Drizzle the tops with olive oil. Place the artichokes snugly in a pan with a tight-fitting lid and add 1″ water to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce the heat and steam for 35-45 minutes, adding more water if it evaporates, until the bottoms are tender and easily pierced with a knife. Serve warm or at room temperature.