Artichokes Au Gratin

artichokesaugratin

Carciofi Gratinati ~ A baked version of artichokes topped with a cheese flavored crumb crust. A delicious side dish for any roasted or grilled meat dish. This artichoke recipe shows how you don’t need complicated ingredients when preparing artichokes, and often the simpler the dish, the better.

I love vegetables of all types, but if I had to choose my favorite, definitely the artichoke would be up there in the top three. Artichokes have an amazing complex flavor, different from any other vegetable.

In Italy there are three principal varieties of artichokes cultivated, which do not seem to resemble the larger, sturdy, commercial grown varieties we have available here in the States in any way. While living in Italy, one of my favorite memories of spring was being in Venice and tasting my first tiny, purple spring carciofi or artichoke. I believe I often schedule my return vacations in Italy in the spring just so I can savor these tender specialties again.

Italians cook artichokes in almost every conceivable way, including braising, stuffing, stewing, frying, broiling, and grilling to name a few. I am hoping that by explaining how to clean and prepare this misunderstood vegetable, perhaps I can get more people to try making them at home. Despite the fact that fresh, inexpensive artichokes are difficult for me to find here in North America, as soon as I see them in our stores in the spring, I buy them by the bag full. There are certain qualities you need to look for when buying artichokes though. Look for tight, compact leaves, no wrinkling, and few brownish blemishes. Choose smaller, rather than the larger artichokes (unless you are planning on stuffing them) and those that feel heavier in your hands rather than light. The smaller variety generally has more edible leaves, and less prickly chokes. It is said if you rub two artichokes together and they squeak, then they are fresh.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2011

Artichokes au Gratin

A baked version of artichokes topped with a cheese flavored crumb crust.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Medium Artichokes
  • 3 Tablespoons of Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 2 Garlic Cloves Minced
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons White Wine
  • 5 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • ½ Cups Fresh Bread Crumbs Made From Day Old Italian Bread
  • 1 Lemon

Directions:

  1. Clean the artichokes by removing the tough outer leaves and stem, ensuring a flat bottom to enable them to sit upright in a pot.
  2. Cut off about 1/3 from the top, and remove the prickly choke from inside.
  3. Place the cleaned artichoke immediately in a bowl of water with a little lemon juice to prevent discoloration.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and oil an 8 inch oven casserole dish or pie plate.
  5. Cut the cleaned artichokes into slices and leave in the lemon water until ready to use.
  6. Drain the artichokes and pat dry, then line your prepared casserole with the slices, overlapping so they fit in a single layer.
  7. Spread over them the garlic and parsley.
  8. Add salt and pepper and drizzle with 3 tbs. of the oil and the wine.
  9. Cover with foil, and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the artichokes are fork tender.
  10. Remove the cover, and then top with a mixture of the remaining oil, cheese and breadcrumbs.
  11. Bake an additional 10 minutes uncovered, or until tender and golden brown.
  12. Serve hot or at room temperature with a drizzle of lemon.