These stuffed artichokes are more than just a meal—they connect me to my heritage and are a reminder of big family dinners at my grandmothers house. A traditional Sicilian dish, this is one that Nana would cook only occasionally, which made it all the more special.
Sicilian food is like the tortoise of the culinary world; it doesn’t look showy, it cooks low & slow, yet it comes out a clear winner. Flavours are built rather than added, deep more than complex, and are created with ingredients that are fresh, cheap & easy to obtain. Seasonal veggies like artichokes are often highlighted, even if they aren’t the easiest to work with. Artichokes, in particular, are slow to grow, slower to flower, and recipes it features in are scant.
Despite this, artichokes offer a unique flavour, especially when prepared with complementary ingredients. Additionally, artichokes are rich in nutrients, including fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants, which contribute to a healthy & varied diet. The double cooking in these Sicilian stuffed artichokes makes them amazing: tender inside and slightly crispy outside. The traditional stuffing is simple yet flavourful, combining bread, cheese, garlic & parsley to complement rather than overtake the delicate artichoke flavour.
Here’s How to Make It
Cut the stems and the tips off the artichokes.
Remove the central choke, then rub a cut lemon well over each artichoke.
Spread the artichokes out with your hands. This only takes a minute and will make them easier to stuff later.
Par-cook the artichokes in a steamer or a pot of boiling water. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and half a teaspoon of salt.
While the artichokes are cooking, make the stuffing. Combine the breadcrumbs, grated cheese, finely chopped parsley, garlic, oil and pepper in a mixing bowl. It should be loose and crumbly but feel oily.
Once the artichokes have been steamed, rest them briefly on a paper towel to soak up any excess moisture. Then place them in a baking tray and stuff them. Place the mixture between the leaves and in the centre. Add the water and wine carefully into the base of the tray, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove the foil and bake uncovered for a further 10 minutes.
Eating stuffed artichokes is done by hand, one leaf at a time. They are usually shared, especially at a large family dinner. As you pull off each leaf, you’ll see the cooked stuffing has adhered to its inside.
To eat, hold the leaf by the outer end, put the rest of the leaf in your mouth, and scrape off the filling and soft leaf base with your teeth. Discard the leaf remnant, as shown above.
Sicilian Stuffed Artichokes
- 1 mixing bowl
- 1 Large pot or steamer
- 1 Baking dish
- 3 artichokes
- 1 lemon
- 1 1/4 cups breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup white wine
- salt, to taste
- Start by cleaning & preparing the artichokes. Cut the stems off so the artichokes can sit flat. You can also remove the bottom outer leaves as they can be extremely tough. Set the stems aside.
- Next, cut the tips off. This is especially important if you have the type of artichokes with thorny ends. Discard all trimmings. Gently pull back or spread out out all the leaves (it's like opening up a flower). This allows more stuffing to fit in.
- Thirdly, remove the central 'choke' from the artichokes. If this is too difficult (artichokes can be tough when raw), cut the chokes out after steaming.
- Cut the lemon in half & rub it over all the cut surfaces. This prevents discolouration. Repeat with remaining artichokes and lemon.
- Par-cook the artichokes. You can do this in a steamer or in a large pot of water on the stove. Make sure they are sitting right-side-up. If using a steamer, add 1/2 tsp salt & a squeeze of lemon juice to the water and steam for 20 minutes. If using a pot/saucepan, bring 1" water to the boil, add the same salt & lemon, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).
- Make the stuffing mixture. In a large mixing bowl, blend the breadcrumbs, cheese, garlic, oil, pepper and parsley.
- Once the artichokes are par-cooked, remove them from the pot or steamer and leave them to drain on paper towels for a few minutes.
- Place the artichokes in a baking dish, stem side down, and push the breadcrumbs in between the leaves with a teaspoon or your fingers. (I like to fit as much stuffing in as I can).
- Next, pour the water and white wine in the base of the baking dish.
- Season the artichokes on top with salt and (optionally) add an extra drizzle of olive oil to each one. Cover the baking dish with foil.
- Bake for 45 minutes then remove the foil. Bake uncovered a further 10 minutes. Check for readiness- they are done when you can easily pull off one leaf at a time without resistance.
- Remove the baking dish from the oven and serve.