Artichoke. Cynara scolymus. Thought to have originated in the Mediterranean. A member of the thistle family. A delicious member of the thistle family, I might add. For some, an acquired taste. It was for me. The first time I ever scraped that succulence from the inside bottom of an artichoke leaf was in my best friend's mother's Italian kitchen. I wasn't sure what to think of the flavor. But it stayed with me. I thought about it. And thought about it some more. And after some time, I actually craved it. I had to have it again. I did. And this time, I loved it.
My daughter and son loved them from the first time they tried them as young children. They considered it a special treat. Still do. I do, too!
I've had artichokes stuffed with a sausage filling, roasted with a balsamic reduction, but my favorite way to enjoy them is filled with a bread crumb stuffing and served with a lemon-butter sauce. Delicious!
Stuffed Artichokes with Lemon Butter Sauce
4 large artichokes
3 tablespoons sliced green onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Lemon Butter Sauce:
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons snipped parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
dash freshly ground black pepper
Clean artichokes: slice off stem of each artichoke so artichoke will sit flat. Cut off top fourth to third of artichoke. Snip tips of outer leaves with kitchen shears. Rub cut lemon over cut bottom and cut edges. Pull out center leaves. Scrape out fuzzy choke (a grapefruit spoon is an excellent tool for this). Drop artichokes in acidulated water (water with lemon juice added) while preparing stuffing.
Melt butter in skillet on stove. Add olive oil. Saute green onions and garlic until vegetables are tender. In separate bowl, mix bread crumbs, cheese, and parsley. Mix in sauteed vegetables. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
Drain artichokes. Fill centers with bread crumb stuffing. If you have stuffing leftover after filling artichokes, spread outer leaves apart and add stuffing between leaves.
Stand filled artichokes in large pot. Add water to halfway up sides of artichokes, bring water to boil, cover pot, reduce heat, and simmer until artichokes are tender, about 30 minutes. (To test for doneness, pull a leaf from the artichoke. If it pulls off fairly easily, artichokes are done.)
Make Lemon Butter Sauce: Melt butter; stir in snipped parsley, lemon juice, and a dash of pepper. Simmer for 1 minute. Serve with artichokes.