I seriously don't think I had ever even seen an artichoke until I moved to New Orleans back in the 90s. Then they seemed to be everywhere! I had heard of people eating artichoke leaves dipped in butter, but never having gotten up close and personal with one before, I didn't realize there was actually some substance to the leaves. My experience with leaves and cooking goes to grape leaves, which I can't even begin to imagine eating dipped in butter or straight out of the jar. I guess that image is what kept me away from the artichokes until I saw one stuffed. How cool is that?!? 😊
You can pretty much stuff them with whatever you want. You just need to make sure it involves some moisture so when you bake them, they don't dry out. I'll use either broth, water, olive oil, melted butter, or a combination of those things. I'm not big on seafood, so I stick with a more traditional stuffing type filling. This time around I went with . . .
1 can artichoke hearts - diced
1/2 small onion - minced
dry herb stuffing mix
fresh bread crumbs
Grated Romano or Parmesan Cheese
2 T melted butter
Salt and Pepper
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish
As with anything else, start by giving your artichokes a quick wash. Then, using a sharp knife, cut the stem off the bottom so the artichoke will stand up straight on its own. Starting at the bottom, use a small pair of scissors to snip the pointy tips off of the leaves. I always keep a small pair of scissors handy in the kitchen for snipping herbs, etc. If you don't have any scissors that will fit comfortably, you could probably use a small paring knife - but you will want to set a spoon or something behind the leaf so you don't cut through to the next one. When you start getting toward the top where the leaves are tighter together, pick up the artichoke by the bottom and just kind of slam the top onto the counter to open it up more. You can slice straight across the top to save some time and aggravation if you want. That's what I did this time ...
Now find a pot that it (they) will stand up in (with or without a steamer basket), add an inch or so of water and let it steam until tender. If your pots are too big, you can try bunching up some foil for it to lean against, or nestle a ramekin or something in next to it.
While that's going on, you can mix your filling together.
When the artichokes are cool enough for you to handle, set them on your work surface. I always seem to start off using an iced tea spoon or something then just switch to using my hands. Starting at the bottom, pull back a leaf and squish in some of the filling. Work your way around the whole artichoke in a circle, then start working your way up toward the top.
When it's full, shave a little lemon zest over the top, then sprinkle some more cheese and give it a drizzle of olive oil. Toss it in the oven until the filling starts to brown, then sprinkle a little fresh chopped parsley or something over the top.
To eat the artichoke, start from the bottom again -- pull off one of the leaves, using your thumb or a little fork to keep the filling on it if necessary, then, holding the top of the leaf between your thumb and index finger, put it in your mouth, close your teeth over it and drag the leaf between your teeth so you are pulling the flesh out of the leaf to eat along with the filling. Yummmm!!!