What better way to spend a chilly day, than to stuff and then simmer delicate artichokes? Artichokes are plentiful here in Sicily and I can't get enough of them! My landlord Francesca is an energetic Sicilian housewife who follows her mother's Sicilian cooking traditions. I will share stories about Francesca's mom, Adele in a future post. 

For the recipe, there is a special technique that Francesca showed me before stuffing these flavorful artichokes. You must pound them against a hard surface to open them up, soften them and expose the heart a little bit before stuffing them. This is done as follows: Hold the artichoke by the bottom and pound the top of the artichoke against the sink or a clean counter. When Francesca does this, she does it with a swift, decisive movement. Here's the recipe:

Stuffed Artichokes - Carciofi Ripieni

Ingredients:

7 large artichokes

1 cup of Bread crumbs (home-made from day old bread!)

1 cup of grated parmigiano reggiano (http://www.parmigiano-reggiano.it)

1/2 parsley (generous and finely chopped)

4 cloves of garlic (minced)

pinch of sea salt

black pepper

Sicilian olive oil (extra virgin)

Wash artichokes and then pound them against the sink to open them up and open their hearts.

Mix the breadcrumbs, grated cheese, parsley, garlic, sea salt and pepper for the stuffing, il ripieno.  Starting with the outer leaves on the bottom, begin to open up the leaves and place the breadcrumb mixture in the bottom between the leaves. You must tuck the mixture deep down between the leaves. Using a circular motion, continue to fill the leaves until you get to the middle.

Put all artichokes about six or seven in a large pot and then fill the bottom of the pot with an inch or two of water.

Sprinkle extra grated cheese, salt and pepper on top and then drizzle the tops of the artichokes with with extra virgin olive oil. 

Bring to a boil and then simmer the artichokes. Now and then, add some water in between the artichokes only (not on top of the artichokes) and simmer for an hour (covered). Then drizzle some more olive oil on top and continue to cook until they are soft. Serve with other delicious Sicilian recipes. I will share more in the coming weeks.