Now that Spring is here we get to enjoy a new bounty of produce. One of my favorite vegetables in season right now is the artichoke. I've also realized throughout my travels that many people don't know how to eat or prepare artichokes so I'm here to give you an artichoke tutorial. I found this recipe in Giada De Laurentiis' book "Giada's Kitchen" and thought it would be fun to try out.
Before I get to the recipe, I'll start with a few basics:
1)The most common way to eat an artichoke is to boil it, then peel off the leaves and eat it until you get to the heart.
2) I think the most intimidating thing about the artichoke is its thorns. Start by washing the artichokes then cutting the thorns off the top with a good knife as shown below. If there are any stragglers, trim them with kitchen shears.
3) When you boil the artichokes, make sure the water is salted and comes to a full boil before you put them in. They must also be fully immersed in the water and they tend to float so I will use a small plate to weigh them down. If you cook them in a pressure cooker, they take much less time to cook and you don't have to use the plate method. Normal cooking time at a boil takes about 30-40 minutes.
4) You know the artichokes are done when the bottom is tender when you puncture it with a fork and when the leaves peel off easily.
5) What to eat it with? Many people use mayonaise or mayonaise-based dipping sauces and I've also used butter sauces with parmesan or garlic. I like to mix balsamic vinegar with light maynaise as my classic dipper.
And now the recipe. You still have to boil the artichokes for this and then you stuff them with cheese and bread crumbs for a punch of flavors that blend perfectly. Something about the bite of the cheese and the bitterness of the artichoke go hand-in-hand. These are also very nice as an appetizer at a party that people can just pick at. The artichoke itself serves as the bowl for the cheese mixure and makes for a lovely presentation.
10 ounces mild Gorgonzola cheese at room temperature
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp plu 2 tsp fresh chopped parsley leaves
1 garlic glove, finely minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 tbsp olive oil
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Trim the artichokes by cutting off the top 1-inch or so. Cut the stem close to the base of the artichoke so the artichoke can sit up straight, and remove some of the bottom leaves. Using kitchen shears, trim the sharp points off of any remaining outer leaves. Add the artichokes to the boiling water. Halve the lemons and squeeze the juice into the boiling water. Toss in the lemons. Cook the artichokes until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain the artichokes and let cool.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together the Gorgonzola, cream, thyme, 2 teaspoons parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. In another small bowl stir together the bread crumbs and remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the center choke of the artichokes using a small spoon. Stuff the cheese mixture into the center of the artichokes. Place the artichokes into a baking dish. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the artichokes. Drizzle the tops of the artichokes with olive oil. Bake until the artichokes are heated through, the cheese is melted, and the bread crumbs are crisp and golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer the artichokes to a serving dish and serve.