Spring is in the air, it’s pollen season already and yesterday I came home to find my husband in shorts (well, he is English). Though the rain is bucketing down tonight, winter seems to be on the way out, and I feel like packing away winter jumpers soon. Oranges are cheap and wonderful, the artichokes are still good and some terribly early strawberries have been observed. We were having Sunday lunch with visitors at Tanto per Magna, an excellent Garbatella trattoria, when I saw carciofi ripieni being carried to a nearby table. Stuffed artichokes: hmmm, interesting! Here’s our attempt to recreate that.
Carciofi ripieni (Stuffed artichokes)
4-5 Italian sausages
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan
One onion, chopped
pinch of dried thyme
Buy your artichokes already cleaned from your friendly neighbourhood fruit and veg guy. Otherwise, get a small sharp knife and cut them down so the prickly outer leaves are removed. Cut off the stem as well (that is edible so save it for something else.) Boil the artichokes upside down for 10-12 minutes (you might need to weigh them down with something to stop them turning right side up.) Test with a knife to see when they start getting tender.
Take them out, let them cool slightly, then scoop out the thistly bits in the centre with a sharp teaspoon. Try to keep them roughly intact, not always easy. Put them together in an ovenproof dish.
In the interim, crumble your sausages into a frying pan with a little salt and pepper and the onion, and cook them, draining off fat of needed. Tip into a bowl, and add breadcrumbs and cheese. You could add an egg to bind it, but ours held together well anyway. Stuff each artichoke with as much of the cooked sausage stuffing as you can, then bake it at 200C for 10-15 minutes.
Note: We should have cut these down further at the top before cooking them, maybe 1-2 cm more, as they were still quite bristly after being cooked. Very nice flavour through! Next time I’d probably just enjoy the carciofi boiled without stuffing them, but it was fun to try something new. Might be nice to try these stuffed with mushrooms and breadcrumbs and the artichoke stems, with a little cheese on top.