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Stuffing Artichokes from Memory

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With a little digging, we're sometimes lucky enough to unearth Heirloom Recipes, dishes that have made their way from one generation's kitchen to the next. 

Today: Sherrie Castellano of With Food and Love shares her favorite recipe, passed down from her large Italian family.

I'm going to let you in on a secret. Although I consider myself to be a health food blogger, one of my favorite dishes goes completely against the guiding principle of my blog. It's cheesy, carb-filled, and completely delicious. Alright, I'll tell you: It's stuffed artichokes.

I've been wanting to share this recipe for a long time, but I struggled with whether I should, not only because I eat a largely plant-based and naturally gluten-free diet, but also because it's so sacred to me. Throughout my time as a cook and food blogger, this recipe has come to represent everything I know about cooking and nourishing others through food.

Prior to taking professional classes, I learned about preparing food from my mother, grandmother, and aunts. I am the oldest daughter in a family of four kids, so I was taught how to cook at a very young age out of necessity—my parents relied on me to help out during mealtime, but I never minded. One of my earliest memories is in the kitchen, wobbling on a chair, wearing an apron far too big for my tiny frame, learning how to stuff an artichoke. I don't remember following a recipe; my mother cooked from memory, and I tasted as we went along.

Up until about ten years ago, I thought this was the only way to eat an artichoke. I didn't know you could broil, grill, or sauté them—but stuffing them will always be my favorite preparation. The moment I bite into a stuffed artichoke, so many memories come flooding back. Most are from my childhood, of sharing meals with my very large Italian family—though I've recently started creating more memories around them, sharing them with the people I love.

Whenever I want to impress dinner guests, I serve stuffed artichokes. They're comforting and nourishing without being too fussy. At first, they can be intimidating, but once you get to know them, there is so much to love.

More: Looking for more excuses to cook with artichokes? Here are 7.

Artichokes are a fairly dirty vegetable, so I like to give mine a good soak in a lemon-water bath. This helps loosen any dirt and bugs trapped in the leaves. Something else to know: Their stems are edible! I learned this tip from my Bolognese mother-in-law. However, I do find the stems to be heavily coated with pesticides, so if you can't find organic artichokes, run a peeler over their skin before you cook them. But most of all, make sure to savor and enjoy them—this is a recipe to soothe the soul.

Stuffed Artichokes

Serves 4

medium artichokes
lemons, halved
cup breadcrumbs (use gluten-free, if desired)
cup grated Romano cheese
garlic cloves, minced
tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
tablespoons olive oil

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Sherrie Castellano

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Tags: Artichoke, Vegetable, Vegetarian, Food History, Heirloom Recipes, Comfort Food