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Artichokes Stuffed with Ham and Pine Nuts

1/2 lemon
12 medium artichokes (about 4 pounds)
1 clove garlic
1/4 baguette, crust trimmed and cubed (about 2 ounces)
2 ounces ham, cubed
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white wine
Water

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Fill a bowl with water and squeeze the lemon
over it. Set aside the squeezed-out lemon.

2. Remove the tough parts of the outer leaves from an artichoke. This is best done
by bending the leaf flat back and then pulling straight down, taking the tips of the leaves
and much of the stringy fiber, but leaving the meaty bases. Work your way around the
artichoke, until you come to leaves where the bases are tender and pale green. Use a
large knife to cut off the dark green top by one-third.

3. Trim the stem of the artichoke with a paring knife, making a flat base and carefully
peel away any tough dark green peel, exposing the tender pale surface. Rub the cut
surfaces with the lemon half.

4. Place the artichoke upside down on a work surface and press down firmly to begin
to spread the leaves. Turn the artichoke right-side up and use your fingers to spread
the leaves as much as possible. Use a melon baller or grapefruit spoon to remove
the innermost purple-tipped leaves and scrape the fuzzy choke from the base.

5. Place the cleaned artichoke in the bowl of lemon water and repeat with the
remaining artichokes.

6. Mince the garlic by dropping it down the feed tube of a food processor while it's
running. Stop the machine and add the bread cubes. Pulse 2 or 3 times. Add the ham
and the parsley and pulse until both the bread and ham are in large crumbs, about
4 or 5 times. Remove the blade and stir in the lemon zest, pine nuts and salt.

7. Drain the artichokes (turn them upside down and spread the leaves) and fill the
central cavity of each with some of the stuffing mixture, mounding it over the top
and working a bit of it between the leaves. Arrange the artichokes in an oiled baking
dish just large enough to hold them in a single layer.

8. Pour the wine into the bottom of the dish and add just enough water to come to
a depth of about 3/4 inch. Cover the dish with foil and bake until the artichokes are
tender enough that you can easily pull out one of the interior leaves (a knife will
pierce the base easily as well), about 45 minutes.

9. Remove the dish from the oven and carefully pour the leftover liquid into a small
saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce to a thin syrup. Pour over the
cooked artichokes and serve warm or set aside to cool to room temperature before serving.


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