Artichokes: A great Sephardi favorite
We grew up in Morocco eating them in every shape and form, even for dessert. Someone in the food industry, bless him, has done all the pesky job of snapping the leaves off the artichokes, and the even peskier job of scraping the fuzz off the artichoke bottoms, leaving us only with exactly what we want (perfect artichoke bottoms or baby artichoke hearts) in order to sail through the preparation of quite a few artichoke-based treats. There’s nothing I don’t do with them: Soups, tajines, Hummus, risottos, side dishes, salads, pickles, pastas, dips!
Lean, nutrient-packed, different, and delicious. Did you know there was an artichoke liqueur called Cynar? Not for the fainthearted: Try it, it might grow on you!
Vegetarian, Meat or Fish Stuffing: You can stuff artichoke bottoms with virtually anything you like: Meat, fish, rice, vegetables, cheese, breadcrumbs: The latter is what I am choosing to go with in this recipe, just so I can let the artichoke be the main star. If you choose to stuff it with ground meat or ground fish, substitute 1 1/4 pounds ground fish or lean meat (beef, chicken, turkey or lamb) for the bread crumbs, and proceed just as instructed.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 4 large cloves garlic
- 2 ribs celery, peeled
- 1 bunch flat parsley
- 6-8 sprigs dill, fronds and stems
- Juice and zest of 2 lemons
- 3 tablespoons capers
- 3 cups fresh bread crumbs, gluten-free OK (or 1 1/4 pounds ground fish or lean meat)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 14-16 large frozen artichoke bottoms, no need to thaw before using.
- 2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 2 good pinches saffron
Heat the oil in large skillet. In a food processor, coarsely grind the onion, garlic, celery, parsley and dill, and add to the skillet. Sauté the mixture until translucent. Add all but last ingredient, and mix thoroughly, adding a few drops water if necessary to form a thick paste. Fill the artichokes with the mixture, using it all up. Bring the cooking liquid ingredients to boil, and place the bottoms stuffing side up in the skillet. Reduce the flame to medium, and cook covered 20 minutes. Transfer the artichokes to a platter, and look at the liquid left in the skillet: if it is too thin reduce to thicken, and pour over the artichokes. Serve hot or at room temperature.