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The World’s Sexiest Vegetable (and How to Do It Just Right)

The artichoke can perhaps be one of the most daunting of all vegetables, specifically because many people just don’t know what to do with it. In the produce aisle at the grocery store, it’s this green tightly packed bunch of petals that don’t seem appetizing at all, playing the game of hard-to-get to the unlearned cook. But if prepared correctly it can be one of the tastiest of all foods, and each petal plucked will seduce you deeper and deeper into its center, where the climactic artichoke heart awaits for the patient and persistent food lover. Women in the 16th century were prohibited from eating artichokes because they were considered aphrodisiacs which enhanced sexual powers, which men did not want their women to possess, so they hogged all the artichokes to themselves. What’s the fun in that? Good thing times have changed!

Artichokes are of Mediterranean origin, and they are actually the flower buds from the artichoke plant. If left on the plant, the buds will produce beautiful blue-violet flowers that are no longer edible. There are various different ways of preparing artichokes, some recipes of which have been part of my Italian family’s heritage long before my grandparents were ever born. According to my mother, on Christmas Eve every year, Grandma Lupuglio (my great-grandmother, who I unfortunately never got to meet) would prepare fried artichokes, and before they’d even leave the pan the kids would try to snatch them away because they were so delicious, but they would have to be REALLY fast or otherwise suffer the wrath of Grandma Lupuglio’s wooden spoon on the back of their legs! Stuffed artichokes were another family favorite prepared by Grandma Lupuglio, and then by my Nana, passed down to my mother, and then fortunately to me. Stuffed artichokes are the much healthier version to their cousin, fried artichokes, but equally if not even more delicious. It’s this recipe which is presented to you here, and its gluten free!

Cooking Materials:

  • Medium/Large pot with lid

  • Metal steaming platform, or a bamboo steamer deep enough to fit the height of your artichokes

  • Medium sauecepan

  • Cutting board

  • Chopping knife

  • Tongs

  • Cooking spoon

  • Small metal spoon

Food Items:

  • Two (2) artichokes with stems. Find the nicest ones you can with the greenest leaves and bigger stems if possible. In this recipe we are preparing 2 artichokes, but you can make more or less depending on your party size.

  • 2-3 Tbsps. olive oil. First cold-pressed, virgin, organic if possible. We condone the use of all organic foods when possible, but especially high quality and organic when it comes to cooking fats. Check out our blog on why good fats are good for you!

  • 3-6 cloves of garlic

  • 1/2 cup Gluten free bread crumbs.

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

The recipe:

  • After rinsing artichokes, peel off the outside bottom small leaves on each artichoke and discard. Using your knife, cut off the stems of each artichoke and set them aside. Next, cut off the top ½” of each artichoke and discard tops.

  • Working your way from the inside out, take each artichoke and spread out the petals, opening up the center and making space inside each artichoke.

If the artichoke petals are packed really tightly, you can bang the center of the artichokes on the corner of your counter to help loosen them up.

The petals should be loosened and spread out. Drizzle some olive oil over the artichokes, and massage the oil into the petals of the artichokes with your fingers. Lightly salt and pepper artichokes. Set artichokes aside.

  • Using your knife and cutting board, smash and finely chop 2-6 cloves of garlic depending upon how much garlic you prefer (we like a lot!) and set aside.

  • Put a medium saucepan on medium-low heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil

  • Take the stems of each artichoke which you set aside earlier and slice in cross sections,

and then finely chop them up

and put them in the saucepan. Sauté artichoke stems, stirring them in the pan with a cooking spoon for 2-3 minutes.

  • Add chopped garlic to saucepan and stir and sauté with the artichoke stems for about 1 minute.

  • Slowly stir gluten free breadcrumbs (we like Outside the Breadbox) into the saucepan, also adding in an additional 1-2 tbsps. olive oil.

Continue to sauté mixture for an additional 3-4 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. The consistency of your stuffing should be moist but crispy, and you can adjust the texture and amount of stuffing by adding more or less olive oil, or more or less bread crumbs.

Remove stuffing from heat. Stir in most of the chopped parsley into the stuffing, but save a little bit of it for garnish at the end.

  • Using your small metal spoon, stuff the artichokes with the stuffing you just made, spreading the stuffing out evenly between the two artichokes, and packing the stuffing between the artichoke petals.

  • Fill your medium/large pot with about 1” of water and place on stove. Place metal (or bamboo) steaming platform into pot. The water level in the pot should be just below the platform. Add/remove water as needed.

  • Using tongs or your hands, carefully place stuffed artichokes onto the platform, taking caution not to tip them over in the pot. Place lid on pot.

  • Bring water to a boil on the stove, and lower the heat once the water is boiling so that it is a low boil. Set a timer for 45 minutes and allow artichokes to steam.

  • After 45 minutes, the stuffed artichokes should be done. Test them by plucking a petal from one of the artichokes and tasting it. The artichoke petal should be tender. If not, steam artichokes for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until petals are tender.

  • Use tongs to carefully remove artichokes from steaming platform, taking caution not to burn yourself.

  • Garnish artichokes with remaining parsley.

Eating stuffed artichokes is admittedly a bit messy, so be prepared for some finger-licking good times! Starting with some foreplay, pluck artichoke petals one by one, starting from the outside and working your way in towards the center. Place a bit of stuffing on each petal for individual delectable bites. Note that only the inside of each petal is edible, so discard the rest of the petal into a separate bowl as you eat. As you slowly eat your way into the center of the artichoke, the petals will get progressively thinner, until there will be a point where no part of the petal is edible. Peel away the remaining thin petals until you reach the hairy section of the artichoke. This is the most difficult part, but you are almost there. Carefully remove the hairy layer with a spoon or a knife and discard, taking caution not to remove any of the heart below. You have now successfully made it to the heart of the artichoke, the very best and most tender part of this delectable food. Hopefully you have saved a bit of stuffing for these last sexy bites, which you have now worked so hard to get to! Buon Appetito!

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