Mediterranean Stuffed Artichokes

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Preparing artichokes can seem like a daunting task but the end results are so delectable that it is well worth the effort.  Here is a step-by- step walk through of my recipe for Mediterranean Stuffed Artichokes that I hope will entice you to try them on your own. Victoria Gourmet’s Mediterranean Stuffed Artichokes calls for:

  • ·         6 large or 8 small artichokes
  • ·         1 small loaf of French or Italian bread (enough for 2 ½ cups of bread crumbs)
  • ·         ¾ cups grated parmesan cheese
  • ·         2 Tbsp. Victoria Gourmet Mediterranean Seasoning
  • ·         ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ·         1 ½ cups dry white wine or white vermouth

You will want to be careful to handle the artichoke from the base or stem  to avoid the often sharp point that is at the tip of each leave.  Not only are artichokes delicious but they make a beautiful presentation that is fun to eat and also good for you.  One medium sized artichoke is a good source of vitamin C, folate and potassium while it is also low- sodium and fat free. If you are going to be making the bread crumbs yourself as opposed to using a store bought brand you will want to preheat the oven to 400°.  Slice the bread and toast it on a cookie sheet until dry but not brown (approximately 10 minutes).  Place the bread in a food processor and pulse into coarse crumbs.  You will want to use 2 ½ cups of the finished bread crumbs. You will want to mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, mediterranean spices and olive oil in a large bowl.  I chose to use a parmesan cheese that I freshly grated and pre-prepared breadcrumbs because that is what I had on hand and a trip to the market was not in my nightly plan.  After rinsing the artichokes under cold water you will want to hold it by the base and begin to trim off the top ½ inch of the leaves with a pair kitchen shears.   Now you will want to lay the artichoke on its side and with a sharp chef’s knife cut off the top third. You may chose to cut a lemon in half and brush it over the artichoke in any spots that are freshly cut.  Artichokes can discolor after cutting quite quickly due to oxidation and the acid in fresh lemon can slow that process.    Next you will want to cut the stem off of the artichoke right at the base so that it will sit upright.  While this recipe does not call for the use of the delicious stems you can use them if you choose.  Trim ½ inch off of the browned end of the stem and then trim down all the green portions on the side with a small knife until you are left with mostly white flesh.  This can be thrown in the bottom of the pan to be cooked along side the Artichokes and then eaten whole or used however you would like.  Now that the artichoke will sit upright on its own you will want to spread apart the leaves  with your hands so that you can begin to scoop out the fuzzy choke center. You will want to use a spoon or knife in a circular motion to loosen and remove the small leaves and the fuzzy choke.  Be aggressive.  This is the fun part. I used a grooved grapefruit spoon when scooping out the insides of the choke but a normal spoon or knife will work just fine. Be careful to stop before you cut away any of the tender bottom.  When the middle is cleaned you should be able see the bottom or the “heart” of the artichoke.  The hard  part is now over,  that wasn’t so bad was it? Now its time to stuff the chokes with the Mediterranean bread crumb mixture.  Make sure to push the stuffing down into the center of the choke and also use a spoon to stuff some between the larger outer leaves.   It’s time to start cooking! Use a pan that is just large enough to fit all of the artichokes.  The chokes can sit slightly higher than the edge of the pan if needed.  Drizzle the wine over the chokes to suit your taste.  I used a Sauvignon Blanc but any dry white wine of your choice will work just fine.   If you prefer not to cook with wine then maybe a generous squeeze of lemon over each artichoke may be a good substitute for you.  Add water to the pan so that the chokes are sitting in 1 ½ inches of liquid.  Bring to a boil  then reduce the heat and cover loosely with foil.  Add more water and wine to the cooking liquid as needed.  After about 1 hour you will want to uncover the artichokes and remove them from the pan with a pair of tongs.  I chose to place the artichokes on a cookie sheet and place them under the broiler for about 2 minutes to quickly crisp up the top but that is an uneccesary step, they are delicious as is.  If you are presenting the artichokes as a first course, serve them on a large plate so there is plenty of room for the discarded leaves.  If they are to be served with a main course, you will need to add a few large bowls to the table for leaf disposal. Serve and enjoy! Best,                 Victoria