In the Hungarian-German household I grew up in, artichokes were unheard of. So when I married into a Sicilian family, some of their foods at first seemed odd to me. Cooking a big, fat artichoke with garlic, pepper and Parmesan cheese and then scraping each leaf against your teeth is definitely strange. Most of the outer part of the artichoke is discarded, and none of the leaves are chewed. As you work your way towards the prize – the heart, or center of the artichoke – the aromatic leaves are to be enjoyed and savored.
Nutritionally speaking, artichokes are low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol. They’re a good source of Vitamin C, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Folate and Manganese.
If you’ve never tasted a freshly cooked artichoke, don’t wait any longer. This delicious delicacy will become one of your favorite dishes, and they’re so easy to prepare. Try to find artichokes that have just come in for the best-tasting and most tender leaves. I’m partial to the super-sized ones that are great to share as an appetizer. As you sit around, pulling off leaves, then scraping them and discarding them in a pile, conversation will flow naturally. And when you reach the prize, it can be divvied up. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
|Italian Artichokes |
Rating: 10 out of 10
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|INGREDIENTS: 1 super-sized fresh artichoke, rinsed well |
1 Tbsp. or more of finely grated fresh garlic
1/2 tsp. good sea salt, such as grey salt
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup or more of freshly grated good-quality imported Parmesan cheese
2-3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Trim stem from artichoke so it will lay flat in the pot.
Spread artichoke leaves open, being careful not to break them.
Stuff leaves with garlic.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle and stuff with cheese. Place in a pot with a few inches of water. Sprinkle some salt over the water. Drizzle olive oil over artichoke and water.
Bring to a boil, cover pot and reduce heat to a high simmer. Cook artichoke for about 35-40 minutes, or till fork tender. Drain and serve. Delicious hot, room temperature or cold.
To eat: Pull off one leaf at a time. Scrape leaf (with stuffing) against your teeth. Discard leaf.
When leaves are off, the heart remains, covered with fibrous “hairs.” Pull off hairs to reveal a smooth heart that can be eaten as is.