(Mom – before you start reading – just remember, I love you!)
Sometimes I wish I came from the sort of family who did the things that we never did. Like skiing. Or going for bike rides together. Vacations in Europe. Eating stuffed artichokes on the holidays. I kid, I kid. I turned out perfectly fine (well, I suppose that’s arguable) without expensive sports and vacations. In turn I got things that other kids might wish for, like plenty of time with all four grandparents (still living, might I add) and summers away at overnight camp.
But about those artichokes? I don’t know, I might just be scarred for life. Because every time I read a blog post about a stuffed artichoke and someone goes on about how her grandmother used to make them every Christmas, filled with yummy cheese and garlic and breadcrumbs, one for each of 50 extended family members… well, I get a little envious inside. I mean, stuffed artichokes? That’s just so… cool. So cool that while I personally know plenty of people who skiied and went to Europe before they could walk, I’m not sure I actually know anyone who ate stuffed artichokes as a kid.
Instead, when I think of holidays, the first food that comes to mind is Trifle. You know the one: chocolate cake from a box, layered with chocolate pudding from a box, whipped topping from a tub and crunched up toffee bars. Sugar-free pudding and fat-free whipped topping to make it healthy, naturally. Holidays don’t make me recall a single veggie except for ones masquerading as dessert.
Actually, let me revise. I probably bear more physical scars from eating too much trifle (by the way – does anyone else get irrationally annoyed when people call this “truffle”? Don’t tell me you’ve never seen it happen) than I do from not not eating stuffed artichokes. However, it’s highly probably that I’ve warded off any impending wounds that would have occurred from never eating stuffed artichokes for the rest of my life, simply by coming up with this recipe. And the good news is, you can too.
As I was saying, we didn’t get out much nor did we venture too far from the center aisles of the grocery store. So I have no idea whether Lebanese people eat stuffed artichokes, and if they do, what they’re stuffed with. What I do know is this recipe for Lebanese-inspired sfeeha tostadas was a huge hit for us last summer. And I know that as soon as I mastered the roasted artichoke last week, I was inspired to stuff it with the same sweet-and-spicy pomegranate and tahini-spiked meat mixture. By that account, I guess you could consider this stuffed artichoke recipe to be Lebanese, twice removed.
But all you really need to be sure of is that this recipe will knock your socks off, along with any notions of jealousy over what other people eat. And suddenly, you’ll be the one eating all the cool stuff. Hopefully you know how to share.
Lebanese Stuffed Artichokes
Yield: 2 servings
Fresh artichokes filled with a special mixture of ground turkey, Middle Eastern spices, tahini and pomegranate molasses, served with a traditional Lebanese chopped salad.
2 large artichoke hearts
1/2 lb ground turkey
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tahini*
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Lebanese 7-spice*
1/4 teaspoon sumac
juice from half of a lemon, plus an additional lemon to cut into wedges
1/2 cup (3oz) grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup (2oz) diced cucumber
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup minced scallions, white and light green parts only
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 teaspoon za'atar*
pinch of allspice
2 tablespoons minced parsley
juice from 1/2 lemon
* These ingredients are available in the Mediterranean or Middle Eastern section of most supermarkets, or in ethnic grocery stores.
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
To prepare the artichokes for stuffing, begin by cutting a lemon into wedges and keep them nearby. This is going to prevent your cut surfaces from turning brown.
Next, trim the stem of your artichoke so that it can sit flat on the counter. If your artichoke has a lot of tough, smaller leaves near the base, simply pull those off.
Using a sharp, serrated knife, cut about 1" from the top of the artichoke, exposing the yellow inside. Quickly, rub it all over with lemon.
This step will vary depending on what kind of artichoke you use. If you have Globe artichokes (more oblong shape with sharper tips on the leaves), you'll want to take some kitchen shears and snip the tips of all of the leaves, and rub the cut surfaces with lemon. If you have Lyon artichokes, (rounder shape with more tender leaf tips), you can skip this step.
Using a paring knife, cut around the core of the artichoke (the very thin leaves with purple tips in the center.) Using a spoon, scoop out these center leaves and all of the hairy choke inside, until the smooth base is fully exposed. Squeeze lemon juice into the artichokes.
Place each artichoke on a large piece of foil coated with cooking spray, and set aside.
Combine ground turkey with all the remaining ingredients for the artichoke stuffing, and mix well with your hands. Fill each artichoke cavity with the meat mixture, and then start working your way around the artichoke, pulling back the large leaves, and stuffing about 1/2 teaspoon of the meat mixture inside each leaf. (It's ok if you don't fill every leaf - just keep going until the stuffing mixture is gone.)
Squeeze some lemon juice over each artichoke and wrap each one tightly in foil. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 90 minutes.
While the artichokes are roasting, combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl.
When the artichokes are done, let stand for 5-10 minutes before unwrapping and transferring to plates. Divide salad mixture among plates and serve immediately.
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat 16.2 g
Saturated Fat 3.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 4.1 g
Cholesterol 80.0 mg
Sodium 549.7 mg
Potassium 891.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 38.9 g
Dietary Fiber 13.5 g
Sugars 7.7 g
Protein 30.3 g
Cara Lyons, www.carascravings.com