I love stuffed artichokes, but I know some people who are intimidated at the thought of making them, while others are wary of diving into one to eat it. I can sort of understand not wanting to tackle making them, but eating them? It's kinda like an onion blossom - you just pull off a leaf and you're good to go. But for those who fear the artichoke, it occurred to me to make an deconstructed version, more along the lines of a nacho. I decided to veer away from my usual filling and go with a chicken and spinach version. I was tempted to chop up a can of artichoke hearts and add that to the mix as well, but I knew I would end up with too much filling, so I skipped it.
1 small sweet onion, diced (about 1c)
1 lg clove garlic, minced
10 oz pkg frozen chopped spinach - thawed
salt and pepper
2 c diced or torn cooked chicken
4 oz pepperjack cheese, shredded
1 T dry seasoned bread crumbs
1 T grated Parmesan
(Nutmeg - optional)
- Steam or boil your artichoke until tender. When cool enough to handle, pull off the leaves and arrange on a baking sheet. Stop when you get to the inner purple leaves. If you want, you can slice off the base just below the bulb and dice that part to mix in with the spinach. (See pic - if you were to pull off the purple leaves, you would get to a bunch of hairy looking fibers - not something you want to eat.)
- Lightly coat a pan with oil (I used olive) and saute the onion and garlic until translucent.
- Add the spinach and cook until wilted down and most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Season with a little salt and pepper to taste - and for those of you who like nutmeg with your spinach, knock yourself out.
- Stir in the chicken.
- Wash your lemon to remove any wax and pesticides, then dry well to make sure it doesn't gum up your zester/grater - zest the peel right over the pan, stopping when you get to the white pith. Then squeeze in a teaspoon or two of the lemon juice to brighten things up.
- Remove pan from heat and stir in the cheese while the spinach mixture is still warm.
- In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and Parmesan.
- Fill each artichoke leaf with the chicken/spinach mixture. You can use a spoon if you like, but it goes faster if you use your hands. Make sure to leave the tip empty, because that will be your handle.
- Sprinkle a bit of the bread crumb/Parmesan mixture over each, then pop in the oven until toasted and melty. I was in no particular rush, so I just threw them in at 350, but if you're in a hurry, just pop them under the broiler for a few minutes.
If you have never eaten an artichoke before, just grab it by the tip, put the whole leaf in your mouth and lightly bite down, then drag the leaf between your teeth so that, along with your filling, you are drawing the pulp out of the artichoke leaf. Discard the remaining leaf.