Refining a Classic: The Baked Artichoke

Ricotta-filled artichokes with crispy breadcrumbs are a perfect spring appetizer.

It’s April so we’re celebrating the artichoke. Electrolux partner Sara Forte of Sprouted Kitchen shares tips, insights, and recipes featuring the versatile and often-overlooked vegetable.

There was a time when you couldn’t attend a cocktail party without seeing a few steamed artichokes paired with a rich creamy dipping sauce. For whatever reason though, the hors d’oeuvre fell out favor over the years. Maybe it’s the pointy leaves — it is, technically, a thistle, after all — that intimidated home cooks and guests alike. This month, do your friends and family a favor, and introduce them to this deliciously elegant dish. At the end of the day, those leaves are really just a delivery mechanism for whatever butter, aioli, or cheese sauce you serve with it, and who can resist that?

In this recipe, you’ll steam the artichokes, but during warmer months they can also be grilled. If you don’t have a steamer basket, use a pot with a shallow amount of water, and rest the artichokes in the bottom to steam them. A basket does help keep vegetables from becoming soggy in water, but artichokes are sturdy enough to steam without. If planning ahead, you can steam the artichokes a day in advance of when you plan to serve them.

Here, warm ricotta and crème fraîche act as the dip, which rests conveniently in the center of the artichoke. Oregano and lemon zest enhance ricotta’s simple flavor. For a little more punch, add some crumbled blue cheese or salty, shredded pecorino to the ricotta.

While this makes a great appetizer, you can also pick out bigger artichokes and serve them as a light dinner, or pair with a seared steak or roasted chicken.

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Cheese-stuffed artichokes become gooey goodness with the even heat circulation of Perfect Taste™ Convection.

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Ricotta Filled Artichokes with Crispy Breadcrumbs

"Artichokes are in season late spring and that is when you can find them with more meat on their leaves." – Sara

Servings: 2, or 4 as a side dish

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Ingredients

2 large artichokes

1 lemon

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup crème fraîche

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large shallot, minced

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/4 grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, as needed

Instructions

Prepare a large pot with simmering water and a steamer basket.

Cut off the upper quarter of the artichokes and trim the stem so each can sit on its bottom.

Use scissors to clip off the spikey ends of the artichoke leaves. Push away the larger leaves from the center, and use a spoon to scoop out the inner leaves and all the fuzz of the artichoke. You should be looking down at the heart.

Zest the lemon and set that aside; squeeze the lemon juice inside the artichokes. Steam them until mostly cooked, about 20 minutes.

While the artichokes steam, prepare the breadcrumb topping. Warm the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, shallot, and generous pinch of salt. Sauté until just softened, about 2 minutes. Add the breadcrumbs and stir to coat in the butter mixture. If they look too dry, add a drizzle of olive oil. Turn the pan off to cool. Stir in the Parmesan and parsley.

Remove the artichokes from the pot and set them in a small baking dish. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Mix the ricotta, crème fraîche, reserved lemon zest, oregano and a pinch of salt and pepper together and fill both artichoke centers until 3/4 full. Fill them to the brim with the breadcrumb topping, letting some spill between the outer leaves and sprinkle a little more Parmesan on top. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes for the cheese to warm and the topping to crisp up. Remove and enjoy, dipping the leaves into the cheesy center.

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