Once you have tried goat cheese and bacon stuffed artichokes, you’ll be sure to be making them time and time again. Seriously, the best way to eat artichokes is to bake them! Well, that’s my opinion.
Covering the dish while baking essentially steams the artichoke with the stuffing in it. That stuffing sticks to the leaves and all you need do is pull a leaf off and enjoy the tender portion. Simply a wonderful antipasto with friends and family. It is also a fabulous meal in itself.
Artichokes are very popular in Italy, especially when they are in season. Here in Florida, I have been able to find them in the supermarkets during September.
How to choose your artichokes:
Heavy: The artichokes should feel heavy when you hold them. If they’re light, that’s a sign that they are a little dried out and probably tough.
Squeak: When you hold a fresh artichoke, the leaves squeak when you squeeze them.
Closed, not flayed open, leaves: If an artichoke has leaves that are wide open, that’s a sign that the artichoke may be on the old side and may be tough. If it’s still heavy, you’re okay, but if not, look for an artichoke where the leaves are more closed with just a little separation.
In season: Buy artichokes when they are in season and you’ll have a better chance of getting one that is fresh and not dried out or tough.
Goat cheese and bacon stuffed artichokes – serves 2 – 6
- 2 artichokes, stems trimmed, small outer leaves removed
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 5 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, whole, peeled and gently crushed
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tablspoons fresh oregano, finely chopped
- 60 g goats cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- Cut the artichoke bottoms straight across, creating a level base. With kitchen scissors, trim the sharp tips from the leaves. With a sharp knife, slice 2cm straight across the tops of the artichokes. discard everything you have removed..
- Place artichokes in a pot of lightly salted boiling water and simmer for 5 – 8 minutes or until the bases are tender. Remove the artichokes, drain and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.
- In a medium frying pan, toast the breadcrumbs over a medium to hight heat for 2 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring often. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, cook the bacon with the garlic until the bacon is lightly crispy. Remove and discard the garlic.
- Add the shallots and cook for a further 2 – 3 minutes then stir in the breadcrumbs, parsley, oregano, cheese and cayenne. Remove from the heat.
- Carefully open the leaves around the artichoke centers to remove the inner purple leaves and scoop out the fuzzy choke with a spoon and discard.
- Spoon breadcrumb filling into the artichoke cavity and between the leaves. Press leaves to close.
- Place in a 20 cm (8 inch) pan, drizzle with oil and add water to the pan to reach 1 cm (1/2 inch). Cover with foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the filling is hot.
- Serve hot or warm.