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
4 to 6
4 to 6
medium-large sized artichokes
olive oil, divided
(45 grams) breadcrumbs
3 to 4
4 to 5
sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
(25 grams) finely grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper
In This Recipe
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Bake for 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Serve warm as a side dish.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.