Over the weekend I saw these gorgeous artichokes at my Italian deli. Perfectly round, leaves close, soft green color. I decide on the dishes I will prepare for the week based on the meats, seafood, poultry and fresh veggies and fruits I find when shopping. I rarely shop specifically for a recipe as I am more inspired by high quality, fresh ingredients. When I do have a specific recipe in mind, I will adjust the ingredients based on what is in season, freshly available and looks tempting!
Stuffing these artichokes was my first choice. My mother served us stuffed artichokes consisting mainly of eggs, bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. I began including crumbled Italian sausage turning this into more of a main entre. I lightened it up this time using Italian turkey sausage.
For basic artichoke preparation tips, the California Artichoke Advisory Board provides a detailed, visual at this link, http://artichokes.org/basic_prep.html
Sausage Stuffed Artichokes
2 globe artichokes
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Italian Sweet Sausage links (or Turkey sausage) casings removed *
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded fontina cheese (this time a used a Monterey Jack Cheese w/jalapeno!)
salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the artichokes by cutting off the stem and cutting off about 1 inch from the top of the artichoke. Immediately rub a cut lemon on the cut top. Use scissors to trim the outer leaves of their prickly tips and remove the lowest leaves. Place the artichokes in a large saucepan and fill with water to cover. Artichokes should fit snug in the saucepan so they stay somewhat submerged. Add a teaspoon of salt. Cover and bring to boil and reduce to simmer for approximately 25 minutes or until a leaf can be pulled out easily. Drain in a colander and allow to cool. (Artichokes can be made ahead at this point and refrigerated until the next day or a few hours). Once cooled, spread out the leaves and use a small spoon to scoop out the inner leaves and fuzzy part.
To prepare the stuffing, brown the sausage, stirring to break up and crumble the sausage. Remove from the pan and cool slightly. Mix in a beaten egg, the parmesan cheese, minced garlic and shredded cheese. Place the artichokes in a lightly oiled casserole dish and gently fill the leaves with the mixture. Add about 3 tablespoons water to the bottom of the pan and cover tightly with foil.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Uncover and continue baking another 5 minutes to lightly brown up the top. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 2.
* Use Hot Italian sausage for a spicier version.