AFC BAKED PEPPERONI ARTICHOKES
Fresh globe artichokes boiled till tender. Stuffed with Texas Toast style fresh breadcrumbs with vegan pepperoni, parsley, garlic and lemon. Baked till steamy hot!
Some Italians stuff the artichoke with ham; I most often use bread and pine nuts. This time I thought why not pepperoni – animal-free of course! The result was splendid!
Makes 4 servings plus extra stuffing / main dish or appetizer
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
8 slices TEXAS TOAST style animal-free bread, stack and cut into 1 inch squares – pulse/process in food processor till evenly crumbly – (makes about 6 c. crumbs)
2 t. salt
lots fresh grind black pepper
2 t. garlic powder
2 t. ground fennel seed
2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. ground allspice
4.2 oz. YVES brand VEGAN Pepperoni Slices, separated
8 med. cloves peeled garlic
1/2 c. chopped curly parsley
juice plus zest of 1 lg. lemon (about 1/4 c.) – zest first, then cut and squeeze
1- Process bread into crumbs as instructed. Transfer to extra-large bowl.
2- Add salt, pepper, garlic, fennel, oregano and allspice. Stir to mix evenly.
3- In empty food processor place pepperoni, garlic and parsley. Pulse, scrape down insides, process till evenly mealy, not mushy. Transfer to bread crumb bowl.
4- Add lemon zest and juice. Toss evenly. Take a few minutes to do it right.
5- Taste for salt. Set aside.
4 whole, fresh artichokes (I prefer the big round ones with tightly closed petals around the crown)
1- If your artichokes have stems, slice off 1/8 inch from bottom of stem and discard. Slice stems flush with artichoke bottoms and reserve, or keep them on and cut them off after cooked.
2- Peel off and discard large, outer, blemished petals, then slice off 1/2-1 inch from top of artichokes, while laying it on its side.
3- Using kitchen shears, snip off 1/4-1/2 inch from tip of each petal – the sharp spiny part.
4- Bring large pot of water to a roaring boil.
5- Put artichokes, stems and 1/2 lemon into water. Do not salt water.
6- Cover, reduce heat to a slow boil and cook till a petal separates easily from the crown. Depending upon the artichoke this could take anywhere between 20-40 minutes.
7- Remove artichokes and stems from water and drain artichokes upside down on a wire rack.
1- Place artichokes upright in a baking dish. Add stems to the bottom of the dish if you have them.
2- Gently pull petals away from the crown as you spoon stuffing between most petals.
3- Add 1 tablespoon water and 1 T. olive oil to bottom of dish. Then, drizzle a little olive oil over each artichoke.
4- Cover tightly with 2 pieces of aluminum foil, each going in opposite directions, wrapping around entire dish. This prevents steam from escaping.
5- Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.
6- Remove from oven. Lift artichokes carefully from the dish, along with the stems, to serving bowls and serve immediately.
7- Garnish with extra virgin olive oil drizzle.
Notes: Stuff artichokes just before baking them. Stuffing that sets too long in the artichokes will absorb moisture from the petals. If you wish, boil artichokes and make stuffing ahead of time, by 1-3 days, but store them separately till you’re ready to stuff and bake.
If desired, serve each artichoke with a side of melted margarine and fresh garlic to dip the petals in.
How to eat an artichoke: Peel petals one at a time from crown. Then, while holding tip between forefinger and thumb, draw petal through clenched teeth, while scraping the tender, inner side over bottom front teeth. Some people do it over their front teeth, but you get a stronger pull when using the bottom teeth. Then discard petal and take another. You may also split the petal in two from tip to end, and follow the same method.
The petals become more tender as you approach the center, yet at the very center they become bitter and unsuitable to eat. Lift these tiny inner petals all at once from the bottom, exposing a circle of hair-like fibers running perpendicular to the rim. Cut under these with a knife; lift out and discard. The artichoke bottom remains. Trim outer edges, cut into pieces and eat.
Now, peel the stems with a sharp knife and eat those. Although a bit more fibrous, the stem is tender and as flavorful as the bottom – an added treat that most cooks discard.
Aside: When Steve and I moved to Massachusetts after being married we rented an apartment in a house in the section of town I was born in, the SOUTH END, which was the Italian section.
At a local restaurant called Ciro’s is where I was first introduced to artichokes. They boiled theirs and served them in a little broth with garlic and lemon. Absolutely delicious. They quickly became my favorite.
Later I learned how to stuff and bake them, which was even better.
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