The Globe Artichoke, available 12 months of year, is believed to be a native of the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands. It belongs to the Thistle group of the Sunflower family.
According to an Aegean legend and praised in song by the poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus, the first artichoke was a lovely young girl who lived on the island of Zinari. The god, Zeus was visiting his brother Poseidon one day when, as he emerged from the sea, he spied a beautiful young mortal woman. She did not seem frightened by the presence of a god, and Zeus seized the opportunity to seduce her. He was so pleased with the girl, who’s name was Cynara, that he decided to make her a goddess, so that she could be nearer to his home on Olympia. Cynara agreed to the promotion, and Zeus anticipated the trysts to come, whenever his wife Hera was away. However, Cynara soon missed her mother and grew homesick. She snuck back to the world of mortals for a brief visit. After she returned, Zeus discovered this un-goddess-like behavior. Enraged, he hurled her back to earth and transformed her into the plant we know as the artichoke.
Now that you know the legend of the Artichoke, below is a tasty recipe for stuffed artichokes.
2 large globe artichokes
4 slices lemon
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 cups fresh breadcrumbs (from 6 slices white bread)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped parsley
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 slices lemon
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 ) Breadcrumbs: Take 6 slices of bread and cut off the crust. Chop centers and put into a food processor. Pulse into coarse breadcrumbs.
2) Stuffing: In a large bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, chopped parsley, minced oregano, 1/2 cup olive oil, and black pepper. Set aside.
3) Prepare the artichokes: Cut off the stem, leaving 1/2 inch from the bottom row of leaves. Using kitchen scissors, cut off 1/2-inch of the tips of all of the artichoke leaves.
Cut 1 inch from the top of the artichoke.
Take a slice of lemon and rub over the cut edges of the artichokes.
4) Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
5) Stuff the artichokes: Pull open the center leaves of the artichokes. Pull out the inner tender yellow artichoke leaves. Use a small metal spoon to scrape and scoop out all of the inner fuzzy choke.
Place artichokes on a sheet pan and stuff the artichoke with stuffing mix. Put some stuffing mix between each large leaf and the artichoke, as well as a generous amount in the center.
6) Bake the artichokes: Put about 1/2-inch of hot water in the bottom of a baking dish that will snugly hold the artichokes. Add 2 slices of lemon, a bay leaf, 2 cloves garlic to the water.
Place the artichokes sitting upright in the water. Drizzle with remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil.
Cover with aluminum foil. Pierce the foil a few times with the tip of a sharp knife (to vent steam).
Bake for 1 hour at 375°F (190°C), or until a knife easily penetrates the heart of the artichoke or you can easily remove one of the outer petals. (Depending on the size of the artichoke baking time can vary from 50 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes.)
Remove artichokes to a serving dish to serve.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Yield: Serves 4 (½ artichoke for each person)
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