I could say that the impetus for a meal of stuffed artichokes was because spring has finally sprung in Vermont. But I would be fibbing.
Sure, it's great to see grass after a ridiculously long winter, but the reason for this spring like meal was just that fact that I was craving anything that wasn't meat. (I go through periodical vegetarian phases.) And although I don't make stuffed artichokes very often, I thought that they would be a perfect fix for my “no chicken, no pork” craving.
When I've made these before, I normally stick to a stuffing of panko, parmesan and fresh thyme. This time though, I decided to add green olives to the stuffing.
And even though the artichokes were fantastic, I did have one complaint. I didn't use enough of the new ingredient. I can't stress this enough, green olives in stuffed artichokes are amazing.
Artichokes Stuffed With Parmesan and Olives
5 tablespoons of lemon juice (reserve 1 tablespoon to rub the top of the artichokes with)
1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil
½ cup of panko
1/3 cup of shredded parmesan
7-14 olives, dried with paper towels (Originally I only used 7 olives, but I think 14 would be perfect.)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
Remove the tough, outer leaves of the artichoke and cut the top off. Fill a pot with enough water to come about 2 inches up the side. Bring to a boil and add lemon juice to the water. (You're going to finish the dish with lemon, so starting with lemon is a nice little bookend of flavor.) Use the reserved tablespoon of lemon and pour it on a paper towel. Rub the paper towel on the top of the artichokes. Steam the artichokes until you can pierce the bottom with a knife, about 45 minutes.
Heat the butter or olive oil in a frying pan. Stir the panko, parmesan, olives and thyme into the hot butter/olive oil. Stir constantly until the cheese has browned, about five minutes.
This is where the recipe veers from tradition. Normally stuffed artichokes are only steamed, or steamed and then baked. But, by doing the panko/parmesan mixture in the frying pan you get the best of both worlds – and you don't have to turn the oven on to enjoy the deliciousness of browned cheese. (This recipe is going to be in heavy rotation in our kitchen this summer when it's too hot to turn the oven on.)
Then take a tablespoon or a melon baller and take out the middle fuzzy section of the artichoke. Fill the center with the stuffing and pull the leaves apart and stuff those as well. Serve with lemon wedges and use them. The juice didn't make the crispy stuffing soggy and the flavor pulls the whole dish together.
Serves 2 very happy people.
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