(Above: The passing of the stuffed artichokes at the RootsLiving table on Easter Sunday.)
In the Three Stooges episode, “Sock-A-Bye-Baby,” Moe, Larry, and Curly feed a baby they find Limburger cheese, spaghetti and artichokes.
Curly calls an artichoke a smarty-choke, a party-smoke, an okey-doke, a feathered apple, and a barbed-wire pickle.
For some reason I think of this when cooking and eating them.
I recommend getting baby artichokes. They’re more tender than the bigger variety. And I always use the italian herb, nepitella. It grows wild on the RootsLiving estate, but is difficult to get outside of Italy. Instead, you could use a combination of dried basil and dried mint — or fresh for that matter, chopped up fine.
I never measure anything when making the stuffing either. Below are suggested measurements to stuff 12 artichokes. Just be sure to make enough to fill them all generously and be sure to follow the proportions below and you can’t go wrong.
How to Eat an Artichoke
And if you’re like that Three Stooges’ baby and don’t know how to eat one of these babies, fret not. Here’s what you do:
- Tear off an outer leaf. Hold the harder end between your thumb and forefinger and scrape the leaf with your front teeth. You’ll get a little bit of stuffing and a little bit of tender artichoke leaf coating too: a miraculous combination.
- If the leaves are tough you can discard them after doing this on your plate. However, these baby artichokes are usually so tender you can eat them, whole leaf and all.
- Baby artichokes (12)
- Lemon wedge (1)
- Bread crumbs (1/2 cup)
- Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
- Nepitella (or dried basil and mint) (2-3 tbsp.)
- Salt, pepper (to taste)
- Olive oil (enough to drizzle over each artichoke)
- Step 1 Cut off the stem of each artichoke with an even slice, so each artichoke can stand up on its own.
- Step 2 Peel off the top 2-4 layers of the artichokes until you get to the tender leaves. (Throw away the tough leaves.)
- Step 3 Cut off the top of each artichoke, about 1/4 of the way down. For the small artichokes, that’s probably about 1/2 an inch or so.
- Step 4 Using your fingers, open up each artichoke like a flower so there’s room to spoon in the stuffing between the leaves. Take the lemon wedge and rub each artichoke with it. This prevents the artichoke from turning brown and also adds a little flavor.
- Step 5 In a small bowl make the stuffing by combining the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and nepitella (or dried basil and mint), salt and pepper.
- Step 6 Hold each artichoke over the stuffing bowl while you stuff it. Using a teaspoon, spoon in as much stuffing as you can between the leaves of each artichoke and set aside.
- Step 7 In a small pot that can hold all of the artichokes standing up, pour in about 3/4 to 1-inch of water. Place the stuffed artichokes standing up in the pot. Drizzle a little olive oil over each artichoke.
- Step 8 Cover the pot and cook for about 15-20 minutes over low heat. Be sure to continuously check the pot to make sure all of the water has not evaporated. Add a little water as needed while it cooks. (These are usually served hot, but taste great cold too — even leftovers right out of the fridge.)