Sunday, September 30, 2012



This vegetable was a favorite during our holidays. My mother would always have them on the table. It would not be a complete holiday dinner without them. My dad’s family served it, but not my mother’s family.

There's another question I should have asked my mom, and never did is “why. “ I guess I could ask my mother’s brother, but I doubt if he would know.

The Artichoke – is a root vegetable, a green vegetable like the flower of a thistle. The choke is the heart of the artichoke and is typically pickled and jarred. In its fresh state, the choke can be tough to eat. However, if steamed it is moist, meaty, and tender. 

Artichokes are grown in California from March until May. When picking one to buy, you want to pick the heavy ones that have thick clumps, and green, not brown leaves, which is a sign of an old artichoke.

The artichoke is a delicious vegetable and a must have for the holidays, at least in our home.  Actually, I cannot remember a holiday without them.  Nona, my dad’s mom and her family introduced them to my mom. Because my dad loved them, mom became a pro at making Stuffed Artichokes.  I could not wait for a holiday because I knew I would be able to have one, my brother never did acquire the taste, nor has my family, except for my 3rd son.

There are many different ways to make artichokes. I know of two ways to stuff them. Some cooks stuff each individual leaf with breadcrumbs. I believe my family's  way is easy, takes less time, and is very tasty.  Of course I would think that way. eh? That is the taste I know. In the past I have tasted the individual stuffed leaves with breadcrumbs, along with the pickled hearts, but my favorite is my family's recipe.
At the end of this post, you can find the recipe.

Artichokes take time to eat. Once the artichoke becomes soft from being steamed, you pull the leaves off by the tip. Dip the bottom into melted butter, and use your teeth to pull off the flesh and butter. Throw away the leaf when you are done. The very best part of the artichoke for me is when I am down to the stuffing sitting on top of the heart.

I love to eat the stuffing of parsley and garlic and finish it off by eating the heart of the artichoke.  Another way I like, is to put a small amount of fresh parsley stuffing with a piece of the heart on your fork. It is" la-Bella vita!" I take small bites to make it last longer. Served with a glass of homemade red wine, I am in heaven.

Today I see artichokes in the produce section often. They are not always the best looking ones, nor are the leaves the fullest. If you are planning to steam it without stuffing it, you can make do.

Another way that many cooks make artichokes are by cutting the artichoke down the middle, drizzle with garlic oil, and steam. In addition, they sale pickled artichoke hearts in a jar. You can add it to salads or eat it along with a chunk of Italian bread.

Here is the recipe I grew up with and still use to this day:

After cleaning as best we can and discarding the lower leaves, we turn the artichoke over so the leaves are touching the counter. We then twist the artichoke back and forth to open it, ( like a tulip in full bloom.) turn it back over and cut off the stem. Not only can the artichoke now sit upright, we have the stem as a main ingredient to add in the stuffing.

The stem is cut up in small pieces, mixed  with fresh cut up parsley and whole pieces of garlic. Add salt and pepper, just a pinch, drizzle a little olive oil in, toss it with our hands, and stuff the middle (inside) of the artichoke.

Place them in a pot with a small amount of water along with a drop of olive oil. Cover and let them steam until done. Make sure to steam and not boil.

You can tell by the color of the leaves, when they are done. The leaves are bright green when placed in the pot, and they slowly change to a dark green while steaming.  Sometimes my dad would test a leaf by tasting it to see if it was tender.

Today I make only one artichoke on the holidays. It reminds me of my childhood home and I want to carry on tradition for my sons.  My one son loves it, so we both share the one.

Do you make artichokes? Share your recipe with me, could you please?




1 comment:

Sharon Lippincott said...

Mmm. I'm hungry! I almost never fix artichokes, and when I do, lemon butter dip is the go-with.

Dee's shared items


This time of year makes me think of all of those things I have to be thankful for - - - -
my husband
my children
my grandchildren
my health
my freedom
always thankful for friends made