Thursday, October 3, 2013

Autumn Artichokes and Pistachios

I promise I have one more post about the England trip, but I couldn't let another day pass without sharing a quick and easy baked stuffed artichoke dish I made the other night.  I know artichokes can seem daunting, and they do take a little work, but they are so worth the effort.  And when I saw these beauties at the store, I needed to scoop them up.  They were incredibly fresh and the size of large grapefruits (or small melons!)--perfect for stuffing.

Lemon and Pistachio Stuffed Artichokes

~Makes two very large servings (I ate half of mine and finished the rest for lunch the next day)
~All measurements are approximate.  I eyeball everything when I cook!  This recipe is very forgiving, and you can easily make substitutions as you go.

  • two extra-large artichokes
  • 2/3 cup pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped
  • approximately 1 cup crushed crackers or bread crumbs (I used lavash every seed crackers)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (plus extra for sprinkling on top)
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 2 mince garlic cloves
  • large handful chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • olive oil (I use it as needed to moisten the filling and then to drizzle on top after the artichokes come out of the oven)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

To prepare the artichokes, cut off the stems with a serrated knife, making the bottoms flat so they will sit upright in the baking dish.  Then cut off the top 1/3 of the each artichoke.  You'll still have some tough outside leaves.  Pull these off.  Take a sharp serrated knife and trim the outside of each artichoke until you have no tough, fibrous parts left.  If you are new to cooking artichokes, there are loads of online photo tutorials for trimming them.  In fact, you can visit Saveur for a good one.

Once I've removed all the tough outside leaves, I take a knife or pointed grapefruit spoon and scoop out the hairy choke inside.  When you spread the leaves apart a little, you'll see it at the center.  Scoop it out, making sure you remove all the fibrous hairs.  They don't feel good in one's mouth!

Now rub the whole denuded and rather sad-looking artichoke (I promise it will become beautiful again) with a half a lemon.  The lemon juice helps to keep it from discoloring.

Okay, all the hard stuff is out of the way.  I promise.  From now on it's easy peasy lemon squeezy.  Toss all the stuffing ingredients together in a bowl, adding the olive oil last, just to moisten the whole lot.  It will look, smell, and taste gorgeous.

Hold an artichoke in one hand and scoop stuffing into it.  I use my clean bare hands, making sure I get stuffing in between the layers of leaves--every crevice--leaving no lovely ruffly space unfilled.  When you're finished, you'll have these rather sexy rosettes overflowing with goodness.

Place them in a flat-bottomed casserole dish, pour in about an inch of boiling water around them, being careful not to pour the water over the stuffing (this will give them a steam bath in the oven).  

Rub some olive oil on one side of a large piece of foil.  Cover the dish completely with the olive oil facing in towards the artichokes.  Now tie a piece of cooking twine around the edge of the dish to hold the foil tightly in place during cooking.

Bake for about 45 minutes.

When the artichokes come out they will be tender and luscious.  I like to take off the foil cover and pop them under the broiler for a couple of minutes to crisp up the tops.  Then I sprinkle a little more cheese and a small glug of olive oil.

I placed our artichokes at the center of a bowl of pasta that I'd tossed with some simple aglio olio I'd made while the artichokes were cooking (heat oil in a pan, toss in minced garlic, red pepper flakes, fresh parsley, salt and pepper, then cook for about five minutes--that's it).

The stuffing tumbled out into the pasta as we ate, using a combination of fingers and forks and knives to work our way through the layers of the artichoke, making the entire meal a treasure hunt.  And the combination of lemon, pistachio, and cheese in the stuffing creates a very special flavor--a little sweet, very nutty, but balanced by the acidity of the citrus and the salt of the cheese.  I think you will love it, too.

I truly think this is the best time of year for cooking and sharing meals.  Happy October, my friends!  


  1. Who would use a fork or knife---or, god forbid, their combination---on these deliciousnesses? I used only my hands---and it was sublime.

  2. This sounds just delicious.
    My family just informed me they are not fond of artichokes, but
    this recipe might just surprise them.

    1. It just might, Marilyn, and another reader told me her friend made this stuffing recipe, but she used it to stuff squash, which she loved, and which I think would be a delicious alternative!


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