Growing up, my mom would cook artichokes on special occasions, such as a holiday or someone's birthday. They were a real treat, almost a delicacy, so we really enjoyed them when we had them! She would steam them, make a Hollandaise sauce, and we would pull off each leaf, dip it in the sauce, and use our teeth to scrape off the fleshy part of the leaf. Such wonderful, delicious memories!
Today, my favorite way to cook these bad boys is by stuffing and baking them. I decided I needed to use up 5 fresh artichokes I had in my fridge that were starting to look a bit sad. I pulled off all of the lower leaves, and cut half of each of the remaining leaves off. I put them in a saucepan, with a small amount of water, covered the pan, and simmered them for about 20 minutes. I took them out, let them cool, and then made a stuffing mix.
I had some stale artesan garlic bread, so I cubed it and threw it in a blender, along with some olive oil, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoned bread crumbs, salt and pepper, and some crushed red pepper. Add enough oil so that the crumb mixture is moistened and holds together. I dumped it into a bowl, mixed in a couple of tablespoons of dried onion, some shredded mozzarella cheese, parsley, and 2 crushed cloves of garlic. I took about 3 slices of boiled ham, diced them up and threw them in too! After mixing it all together, I stuffed the artichokes.
I put them in a baking dish, drizzled a little more olive oil over the tops, added a small amount of water in the bottom, and covered it. I cooked them in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Look how beautiful they came out!
Artichokes have to be one of my favorite things in the world to eat. All of my kids love them, and of course I take full credit! How may kids do you know who have grown up with artichokes and love to eat them???
Don't be affraid to try them. It is a little bit of work, but they come out so good.....so worth the effort!