I realized yesterday morning that there were only 4 more weekends left to visit my local Farmers Market before closing for the season and not re-open till May. So it seemed logical to go check out the 85 vendors and see what they were hawking this weekend in terms of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and crafts. As I hadn’t been for a few weeks, I noticed lots of new items not featured earlier this summer, so I struggled to stay focused on the fruits and vegetables and not get caught up in all the colorful crafts that were displayed. In particular I found lovely artichokes, and the reddest of raspberries and ripe red pomegranates. You are likely thinking what do the three items have in common – well nothing, except all three were exceptional each in their own right. So I started with the artichokes using a recipe I adapted a few years ago from Biba Caggiano (From Biba’s Italian Kitchen). As to the raspberries and pomegranates, well….hmmm…
4 large artichokes
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 cup garlic herb bread crumbs
4 cloves garlic (crushed)
6 slices Pancetta (chopped)
3 Tbl fresh Italian parsley
1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup dry white wine
Choosing an artichoke: Ensure the artichoke’s leaves are closed – if they are starting to open they will lack flavor. Check the stem for dark brown or black spots – if you find some, choose another artichoke. Press the bottom of artichoke – it should be heavy and firm.
Cut the stem off the end and trim off any bad leaves. Trim the pointed ends off all the leaves and cut off the crown (top) of the artichoke. Rinse them and place them upside down in a pot – fill with water, cut the lemon into quarters and add them too. Let the artichokes soak for 10 minutes, then shake out any water, turn upright on paper towels and let them drain.
In a frying pan add a splash of olive oil. Add the pancetta and fry till lightly browned – drain on paper towel and set aside.
Place the artichokes in a deep pot, add the white wine, lemon sections, and fill with water till half way up the sides of the artichokes. Bring to a boil, then turn down immediately, cover the pot, and simmer for 20 minutes.
While the artichokes cook, prepare the stuffing. Add olive oil to the frying pan and add both cups of bread crumbs, garlic, cooked pancetta, parsley, parma cheese, a touch of salt and lightly sauté till all the flavors blend – should only take a few minutes.
Once the artichokes are done, remove them and drain out any water. Take the stuffing and gently press it between all the leaves, filling the top cavity last with any excess stuffing.
Place the artichokes in a baking dish – I use two small baking dishes and place two of the artichokes in each dish – most recipes say to put them all of them into one pan so they fit snugly. I don’t like them to fit snugly as parts of the artichokes will not cook – so two pans with two chokes and it works beautifully. Pour 1 Tbl of olive oil over the two artichokes in each pan and put in a 350 degree oven. Cook for 25 minutes or until they are tender. To test if they are done, insert a knife in the bottom stem, and also the leaves should easily pull away when tugged on.
Yield: Serves 4 whole artichokes