Few things ignite the deep flames of the fondest memories of my childhood than spending moments with Grandpa Louie and Grandma Lena at my parent’s cottage by the lake. If my siblings and I were fortunate enough, we would experience one of these three, rare occurrences; a sample of a freshly plucked purple fig from our grandfather’s much-loved Italian fig tree, to become Co-Captain on Grandpa’s John Deere tracker circling his massive vegetable gardens or experiencing a few leaves of his spicy, but luscious stuffed Carciofo. Here is Grandpa Louie’s addition to the archives of my recipes and the loving, valued early days of my mind.
2-3 large trimmed artichokes; ½ inch trimmed from tops to flatten and remove thorns. Remove stem. With a sharp knife, cut an X into stem area.
4 minced cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon salt
A few grinds of fresh cracked pepper
1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1 cup parmesan cheese
A few strips lemon peel
In a medium bowl combine minced garlic, dried pepper flakes, lemon peel, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese; season with salt and pepper and mix well with your fingers to remove any lumps.
While holding trimmed artichoke over bowl of above ingredients, spread and sprinkle as many leaves as possible between the layers; filling about each stuffed leaf to half. Repeat until all artichokes are stuffed and mixture is used. Drizzle 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil on top.
Fill a large pot about 1/3 full with salted water and bring to a boil. Place metal vegetable steamer in pot, add trimmed, stuffed artichokes and add a few strips of lemon peel to the water; cover, lower the heat and simmer until the artichoke bottoms are fork-tender, about 55-60 minutes. Transfer to plates, cool slightly and serve with lemon wedges. Servings: 3-6