Artichokes lend themselves to stuffing. In Italy, you’ll find them filled with canned tuna in Abruzzo, sausage meat in Calabria, rice in the Veneto, and ricotta and salami in Sicily. This filling, with minor variations, is popular throughout southern Italy.
- 6 large artichokes
- 1 lemon, halved
- 2/3 cup fine dried bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- About 4 Tbs. olive oil
Working with 1 artichoke at a time, trim the stem even with the artichoke bottom, peel and chop the stem, and set aside. Snap off the small, tough leaves around the base. Cut off the top 3/4 inch of the leaves with a serrated knife or chef’s knife to remove the prickly tips. Gently pry the center leaves open and, using a small spoon, scoop out the prickly choke and discard. Repeat with the remaining artichokes. Rub the cut sides of each artichoke with a lemon half as you trim them to prevent the artichoke from darkening.
In a bowl, combine the chopped stems, bread crumbs, cheese, parsley and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Add about 2 Tbs. of the olive oil, or just enough to moisten the mixture.
Gently spread open the center and the rows of leaves of an artichoke and push a little of the stuffing mixture between them. Repeat with the remaining artichokes. Place the artichokes upright in a pot just large enough to hold them. Add water to reach about one-third of the way up the sides of the artichokes. Drizzle the tops with the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil.
Cover the pot and place over low heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until the artichoke hearts are tender when pierced with a knife and a leaf is easily pulled out, about 45 minutes. Add a little more water if the liquid evaporates too quickly.
Transfer the artichokes to individual plates or bowls and serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian by Michele Scicolone (Oxmoor House, 2007).