Fresh artichokes in season are so amazing in Italy that there are actually festivals dedicated to the spring harvest. When they were introduced in Italy, they were thought to be so beautiful that they were used as wedding bouquets. Today these edible thistles are often seen as decoration in giant baskets or as table displays. Many people are intimidated by preparing fresh artichokes, but it’s not hard if you know how. They can be prepared well ahead and look impressive on your table. My Mom would make them for holiday meals and the spring is the best time to find large fresh artichokes, stuff them and enjoy them leaf by leaf!
Baked, Stuffed Artichokes
4 medium fresh artichokes
2 -3 cups Italian style breadcrumbs (or make fresh and adjust the seasonings for more taste)
3 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese and 3 tablespoons romano cheese
2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 lb. finely cut salami
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1⁄2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
Rinse artichokes well. Pull the leaves open to make it easier to stuff.
Trim the stem or bottom of the artichoke so they sit flat.
With scissors, trim off the pointed tips of each leaf. Spoon out the choke. Place them in a large bowl with two cut lemons so they don’t turn brown.
In a bowl, combine bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, salami, garlic salt, and pepper.
Mix well; add olive oil in a stream until the mixture is moist. If you make fresh crumbs, you will probably use less oil.
Remove the artichokes from the bowl and drain off excess water. Stuff each leaf of the artichoke with the mixture, starting from the bottom. As the leaves get smaller and closer at the top, you don’t need to stuff them but put some stuffing in the center.
Place artichokes in a large baking pan and fill bottom of pan with 1/2 to 1 inch of water.
Drizzle olive oil over top of stuffed artichokes and cover tightly with foil. Place them in a pan so they have only a little room between them or they will open too much in the cooking process.
Cook on 375 degrees for approximately 60-80 minutes (depending on size of artichoke) or until leaves come out easily.
Please one each in a bowl for each person and serve. It’s the ultimate finger food!