Friday, September 18, 2009

Artichokes across the seas

I have a lovely friend who has gone to live overseas. In fact I have a number of lovely friends who are living very far away at the moment, but I’ve been missing one in particular a lot recently, and largely because I recently bought a new cook book. Hmmm, that doesn’t sound like it would make you miss a friend really does it, maybe I need to explain a little more.

The book I bought is My Cousin Rosa, by Rosa Mitchell. Rosa runs “Rosa’s Kitchen” or “Journal Canteen” or “that little place upstairs next to CAE”, and my lovely friend loves to lunch at Rosa’s – and I can’t blame her. Like the restaurant, Rosa’s book is full of homely, simple, rustic and delicious Sicilian recipes, and, like eating in the restaurant, the book makes you feel as if Rosa may really be your cousin, sharing family stories and memories about food and life growing up in an Italian family in Melbourne.

So with thoughts of friends far away, I bought some new season artichokes and set to work on a special Rosa recipe – Sicilian stuffed artichokes. Served at room temperature as part of a antipasto type meal on a warm Saturday evening with a glass of wine, these artichokes were delicious... perhaps almost good enough to bring a friend home to try a taste.

Carciofi ripeni - Stuffed artichokes
Adapted from My Cousin Rosa by Rosa Mitchell

2 globe artichokes (they should be firm with tight rather than wilting or separated leaves)
2 slices stale ciabatta or similar finely chopped or whizzed in the food processor into coarse crumbs
½ bunch flat leaf parsley finely chopped
1 clove garlic minced
¼ cup grated grana padano or similar
1 egg lightly beaten
1 lemon
Olive oil
1 can tomatoes
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180c

Trim off the top third of the artichokes and chop off the stem right at the base. Keep the top 2-3 cms of the stem and peel it - discard the rest. As soon as you’ve trimmed the artichokes and peeled the stem, throw them in a bowl of water with the juice of 1 lemon and the bit of reserved – they discolour very quickly and this will help to stop that.

In a small bowl mix together breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic and cheese.

Take one of the artichokes and roll it around on the kitchen bench with a bit of pressure from the heel of your hand to open up the leaves a little. This actually didn’t work particularly well for me, so I was just more forceful with the stuffing.

Take small handfuls of the breadcrumb mixture and stuff it in between the layers of leaves. You’ll have to really stuff hard. Try to get some in between each of the layers – or just distribute the stuffing throughout the artichoke as much as possible. Repeat with the other artichoke.

Heat some olive oil in a pan and dip the top of each artichoke into the egg. Quickly pop them egg-side down into the hot oil. This is to seal the stuffing in the artichoke and will only take a minute or two.

While they’re frying, empty a can of tomatoes into a small baking dish, along with a good grind of pepper and salt, and maybe a bay leaf if you’re feeling fancy.

Take the artichokes out of the pan and place them egg side up in the tomatoes. Throw the stems into the tomato, cover the whole lot tightly with silver foil and bake for about an hour, or until a skewer goes through the centre of an artichoke easily.

Eat with some crusty bread and a salad for lunch or along with some other antipasto delicious bits and pieces for a leisurely dinner.

Enjoy with good friends, near and far.


  1. I had a very similar dish at Melbourne Wine Room for lunch yesterday, slightly adapated.

    The stuffing was less cheesy (I am assuming this based on your photo), and more bready, and to make up for a less cheesy stuffing, was served with a big ball of buratta on top. Heavenly!

  2. Hmmm, I know my stuffing looks very cheesy but it actually wasn't at all. In fact it wasn't cheesy enough! Next time maybe I'll have to take a page out of Melbourne Wine Room's book and bung a buratta on top - oh yeah, buratta!

  3. An old friend taught me something quite like this and I made it for years, but often ended up with soggy stuffing. I like the idea of the egg-seal, maybe that would solve my problem. (Hmm, or maybe if I had the technology to cook them sous-vide... that might be good!)

  4. To be honest, the stuffing was a bit soggy, but I kinda like it that way.

    Maybe another option would be to do toasty bread crumbs? Douse them in olive oil and pop them under the grill/broiler to get nice and crunchy?!

    Sous-vide artichokes?! I'd like to try that...