Sundays are special. And on Sundays, you make something special!
Yesterday I spent little over two hours preparing this dish, but I assure you, that every single bite of it was delicious.
I have time and time again eaten stuffed artichokes at Italian restaurants, but to put a spin to this Italian classic, and bring it closer to our local ingredients, I stuffed my artichokes with fresh lobster tail. YUM! YUM! YUM!
Artichokes are in season lately, and I have 10,000 cooking ideas go through my mind every time I see a “pratik” (local word for street vendor) walking around town with her basket filled of fresh organic artichokes.
Artichokes is one of these vegetables that I profoundly believe that God created on one of his happy days, to grant us a delicious gift, that is excellent for us in so many ways, but not with a little effort on our end. He thought about it really hard, and realized that hard work only could gratify the pleasure of eating the best part of this vegetable. So he put leaves and leaves of prickly barricades to protect its precious heart. And only the tenacious and patient ones, would rise to the challenge and get to enjoy its savory core.
Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.
And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.
— Genesis 9:2-3
This surprising vegetable, has a taste of its own, and no wonder it is considered to be quite a delicacy in many places in the world.
Believe me when I tell you that the time spent preparing this dish is worth it, because it is. And you know I am not one to praise complicated recipes … this is not a complicated one, just time consuming. It takes time and determination to clean and prep the artichokes, only to finish with a few cuts on your fingers from the prickly leaves (ouch!) and stained fingers (yes, artichokes will turn your fingers a little dark and stained). Do not get discouraged though, and use a pair of gloves before starting, and a good knife, a small spoon and scissors will be your weapons of choice to face this challenge.
To facilitate the process, I documented each step below with photos for you. Once you will get the hang for cleaning and prepping these artichokes as shown, sky will be the limit as to what to stuff them with.
In this Lobster Stuffed Artichoke recipe I opted for Panko instead of the more traditional bread crumbs used in the italian recipe I found on the Food Network. The panko adds extra crunch and is thicker and lighter then the regular italian bread crumbs they use. Plus with some Gruyère cheese and Tête de Maure cheese, each leaf of the artichokes pulls out with greatness in every bite, and in the heart, that famous heart, lies the delicious pieces of lobster in a creamy sauce with crunchy dices of onions and sweet peppers, topped with extra cheese.
Now does that sound like justice to this great vegetable to you?!! To me it does ! And I hope that once you will try it, you will see why I say that the hours spent to create this dish, are all worth it!
Ingredients for 8
8 medium sized artichoke
3/4 cup Tête de Maure cheese (or parmesan)
3/4 cup Gruyère cheese
1 1/2 cup Panko
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp Italian herbs
4 cups chopped lobster tails cleaned and deveined
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp pressed garlic
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 red onion diced
3 sweet mini bell peppers, diced
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and preheat your oven at 400° F while you will prep the artichokes for boiling.
Set your artichoke on its side and with a sharp knife, cut the stem to create a flat base for your artichokes to stand up straight in a plate. Cut of the top of the leaves as well on the other side about 1/3 high (image 1).
Use your scissors to remove the remaining prickly leaf tips, cutting them evenly, row by row to obtain a nicely clean artichoke (image 2.)
Start over with all your artichokes and set them aside (image 3).
Once your water has boiled, place your artichokes in, and boil them for about 15 minutes, making sure not to overcook them. You should be able to pierce through the bottom with a knife once they are ready, or to test try to pull one of the leaves towards the center out. If it comes out without a fight, your artichokes are ready. Over a paper towel, line them out upside down for the water to drain out, and let them cool a few minutes before cleaning the insides.
Do not throw away the water.
In the mean time, in a large skillet, add your butter to melt. Sauté your pressed garlic and 4 cups lobster pieces together, adding your white vinegar, italian herbs and some salt and pepper to taste. Once sautéed, add in the heavy cream, and let cook a few minutes, until sauce thickens and coats every piece nicely. Now add in your diced onions and sweet bell peppers for crunch, taste and color. Set this mix aside.
In a bowl, mix your Panko, and half cup Tête de Maure and half cup Gruyère cheese together, leaving about 1/4 a cup of each to top the artichokes. Add in the Panko mix some salt and pepper and your chopped fresh parsley. Set the mix aside.
Now comes the time consuming part of cleaning the insides of your artichokes, that should have cooled by now.
With your fingers, separate the leaves slightly to pull out purple leaves from center and enough yellow leaves to expose the fuzzy choke on top of the heart. With a small spoon (I used a coffee one), scoop out the fuzzy part to create a nice clean crater in the center that will house your lobster mix. Do this gently in order not to remove any of the good stuff, meaning the flesh of the heart (image 4.) Repeat this step until you have cleaned all your artichokes. Wash your hands thoroughly with lemon juice to remove the bitter taste the artichokes will leave on your fingers, and some of the dark staining.
Now separate your leaves, and place your clean artichoke in the middle of the bowl with the Panko mix. Fill the in-betweens of the leaves on all sides with the Panko mix (image 5.)
Place artichokes in a plate and now stuff the middle with your lobster. One by one, stuff your artichokes and place them in a large baking dish (image 7 and 8).
Once all your artichokes are stuff, add 1 cup of the artichoke water in which they had boiled. Drizzle the artichokes with a little olive oil, freshly ground pepper and salt, top with the extra cheese that you will mix together.
deep baking dish and pour wine over the artichokes and about 1/2 c. water into the bottom of the dish. Drizzle artichokes with olive oil and add more salt and pepper.
Cook for about 45 minutes or until the tips and top turn golden.
Serve with some toasted bread and a side green salad.