Artichokes Stuffed with Capers & Anchovies (Carciofi Ripieni alla Siciliana)

By Emiko
April 17, 2015
17 Comments


Author Notes: There are endless versions of Sicilian-style stuffed artichokes, one of which you see here. Plenty of breadcrumbs (here, toasted in some garlic-infused oil), plus the salty tang of both anchovies and capers, means you get a rather hearty and tasty artichoke. The artichoke is usually baked and the filling can be made with or without egg to bind—with it, you get a soft, compact filling and without it, a crumbly, crunchy topping. Sometimes you'll also find it with pieces of caciocavallo cheese, so the filling is bubbly and melty. For the closest result to the original Sicilian dish, get your hands on anchovies and capers that are packed in salt, rather than oil or brine. The flavor is far superior and worth the little extra attention. Both need to be soaked and rinsed in cold water very well to ensure you don't over salt the dish, and the anchovies need their backbones removed. With such a simple dish made of relatively little (breadcrumbs make up the bulk of this filling), the flavor of the capers and anchovies is what will make all the difference.Emiko

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 4 to 6 medium-large sized artichokes
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup (45 grams) breadcrumbs
  • 3 to 4 anchovy fillets
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 4 to 5 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup (25 grams) finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Prepare the artichokes by pulling off the leaves, starting from the base and going round and round until you reach the tender and pale-colored leaves. Trim off the stem so that the base of the artichoke is perfectly flat, and cut the top pointed half of the artichoke off completely. Rub both cut parts of the artichoke with the lemon half to stop them from getting black.
  2. Cook the artichokes in a pot of boiling salted water for about 7 to 10 minutes, until a knife easily pierces through the bottom of the artichoke. Remove and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small skillet. Add the garlic clove and let infuse a few minutes, until the garlic is golden. Remove the garlic and add the breadcrumbs to the pan, tossing to coat with oil. Continue toasting the breadcrumbs for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and let cool.
  4. Drain the capers and anchovies in oil, or, if packed in salt, rinse off the salt, then soak them in cold water for 10 to 15 minutes (some like to leave the anchovies longer, around 30 minutes). Then, split the anchovies down the middle along the backbone and remove the backbone. Chop the anchovies and the capers.
  5. Combine the breadcrumbs with the chopped anchovies, capers, parsley, and Parmesan. Add the beaten egg and season with pepper (you won't need salt because of the anchovies and capers).
  6. Grease an ovenproof dish with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and preheat the oven to 350º F (180º F). Take your cooled artichokes and, from the center, gently tease open the artichoke leaves to leave an opening about an inch wide. If your artichokes have a fluffy/thistle-like choke in the middle, remove this part with a teaspoon. Spoon the breadcrumb mixture into the center of the artichoke and over the top and place the artichokes in the prepared dish.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Serve warm as a side dish.

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Reviews (17) Questions (0)

17 Comments

LE B. April 23, 2015
Patricia, i have written to emiko to clarify, because i think she may have been confusing in her answer to you.<br /><br />There are 2 parts of the artichoke that are edible: the meat on the leaves, and the heart/ artichoke bottom (and some of the stem.) When artichokes are cooked whole, which is usual, the leaves pull away easily and you scrape off the meat with your teeth. (Check out some You Tubes.) After all the leaves have been removed, the fibrous cap above the heart- is scooped out/removed and tossed. Then you eat the heart. In Italy, they also eat tiny baby artichokes (rarely are they seen in most of the U.S.) which they cook (often deep fried) and eat whole (even the choke, because it is tiny and undeveloped.) I hope this helps.
 
Author Comment
Emiko April 23, 2015
Hi there, thanks, I've replied to everyone below and adjusted a bit in the instructions to include explaining to remove the choke. Also the Food52 link below is handy for anyone unfamiliar with prepping artichokes. As I mentioned below, the artichokes (and not only baby ones) in Italy rarely have the choke and I don't live in the US so sorry about any confusion there on what you can/can't eat! Hopefully all clear now :)
 
dymnyno May 7, 2015
Baby artichokes are very common and easy to find in groceries...in California. (just like ramps are common in the East coast but NOT in the West) Every artichoke has a hairy(fibrous) center whether it is fully developed or not...it becomes the flower of the artichoke and is called the choke. When artichokes are not picked and are allowed to flower that hairy center becomes a beautiful purple flower. (even in Italy)<br /><br />
 
Author Comment
Emiko May 7, 2015
Good point about the coast to coast differences, though I will say here in Italy it's hard to find an artichoke with a hairy centre - you can pretty much eat the entire thing without worrying about fluffy centres (even raw)! Of course if left longer, that fluffy choke develops and eventually turns into a flower (wild artichokes on the roadside are a wonderful find!). ;)
 
ChefJune April 21, 2015
I don't think you're going to want to eat the thistle-y like choke in the center, either. If your artichokes are old (happens a lot in US grocery stores) that choke may be a bit difficult to remove. A grapefruit spoon can help in that case. Some of the outer leaves will likely also have split. I usually cut those all the way off. <br />IMHO, the tastiest part of the artichoke is the bottom and the stem.
 
dymnyno April 22, 2015
June is right. You would have a hard time eating the choke if you didn't remove the thistle in the heart of the artichoke before stuffing it. Last year I smuggled a bag of capers from Salina (one of the Aeolian Island off the coast of Sicily) and then found the same brand in my local grocery.
 
Author Comment
Emiko April 23, 2015
Hi everyone! Thanks for mentioning this. In Italy (where I live), it's rare to find artichokes with the fluffy bit in the middle (see the photo of the cut and prepared artichokes above!) and since I don't live in the US it's hard for me to know this information! So thanks for pointing this out. Since that is that case, I'll adjust the recipe instructions to include removing the choke (which can still be done after blanching, in fact, it will be much easier to do it that way so that you can keep the artichoke whole). I'm not sure I misinterpreted Patricia's question though -- she asked whether you eat the whole artichoke (I am assuming she meant the cooked, prepared artichoke) or just the stuffing. Since it's all meant to be eaten (not just the stuffing!) I responded you eat the whole thing. I can see how this is getting confusing though! This Food52 article on prepping artichokes is handy too - https://food52.com/blog/6373-the-many-ways-to-prep-an-artichoke
 
Author Comment
Emiko April 23, 2015
Also to June -- I love the bottoms and stems too! You can also do this this Ligurian way (which I mention in my article on this recipe here: https://food52.com/blog/12758-stuffed-artichokes-with-capers-anchovies-carciofi-ripieni-alla-siciliana ) where they add the stalks to the stuffing too! The bottoms have to be cut off enough so that they sit flat in the dish, but no sense in wasting them if you love them - blanch them along with the rest of the artichokes then chop them up and add them to the stuffing ;)
 
LE B. April 23, 2015
june, do yo7u peel the stem? mine usually have a tough fibrous 'skin'.
 
Author Comment
Emiko April 23, 2015
You should definitely peel the skin of the stem - just the outermost part so you are left with the pale, tender part.
 
Patricia B. April 24, 2015
Emiko is right, I did ask whether you just could cut the artichoke, after cooked, at eat it, or you should remove the artichoke leaves and only eat the stuffing and the artichoke heart. Also, I live in Denmark and do not know the quality of the articokes here...
 
Patricia B. April 24, 2015
and eat it*
 
LE B. April 24, 2015
PATRICIA, I looked at your member profile page to see where you lived so I knew what artichokes you might have there, but you haven't noted your location there! you might want to add it and anything else-to your member profile!
 
Patricia B. April 24, 2015
Okay, I will do that right away :-)
 
Patricia B. April 19, 2015
This is maybe the dumbest question you will ever here, but I have never eaten artichokes...Can you eat the whole artichokes or only the stuffing?
 
Author Comment
Emiko April 19, 2015
Good of you to ask! You can eat the whole thing (once you remove the tough outer leaves, as explained in the instructions, that is) :)
 
Patricia B. April 19, 2015
Okay, thanks :-) I have just heard a lot of people talking about the artichoke heart being the only part that is edible.