If you really want to get creative, add some crushed red pepper to the stuffing. I confess I’m a heat-o-holic, so you’ll find a lot of spicy hot recipes in this blog.
4 large, fresh artichokes
2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
3 tbsp minced garlic
¼ cup olive oil (more if necessary)
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
¼ cup fine grated Parmesan cheese
½ can peas, drained
2 to 3 sheets of cabbage
Place the bread crumbs, minced garlic, olive oil, black pepper, salt, and Parmesan cheese in a large bowl and mix together with a fork. The breadcrumb mixture should be very moist, so please feel free to add more oil as needed. Add the peas at the end and toss gently.
To prepare the artichokes, you must first remove the crown. Hold the artichoke on its side and use a sharp knife to remove the very crown. Then use kitchen shears to remove the pointy tops of the remaining leaves. Finally remove the stems down to the base. Trim and reserve these.
Now it’s time to open up the artichoke. Turn the artichoke on its flat crown (top down) on the table, then apply gentle pressure in a slow, rolling motion. Turn the artichoke crown up again and then hold the artichoke by its sides with your thumbs in the crown. Pull the artichoke crown open slowly and gently. Then gently loosen the leaves all around the artichoke. This makes it easier to stuff.
Prepare the pan prior to stuffing. Make sure you choose a large dutch oven or pasta pan with a cover, and add about 1-1/2 inches of water and 1 tbsp of olive oil. A crock pot makes the most tender artichoke, however.
Now it’s time to stuff the artichokes, and there’s nothing delicate about it. Just as you use your fingers to eat an artichoke, so will you use your fingers to methodically stuff the artichoke with the bread crumb and pea mixture. During this process, the artichoke will obviously expand in size. Place each stuffed artichoke in the pan of water. They should fit snugly and prop each other in the upright position at all times. When you have stuffed all four, drizzle olive oil on the top of each and toss in the trimmed and reserved stems. Place the sheets of cabbage on top to maintain moisture and hasten cooking.
Cook over low heat for 45 minutes to an hour, replenishing water as necessary. Begin to evaluate the tenderness of the artichoke about 45 minutes into the cooking process. I find the best way to ensure the leaves are tender is to stick a steak knife through the side of the artichoke. If you can easily penetrate the artichoke, it’s done.
If you are using a crock pot, the cooking time will take a bit longer but the results are amazing.