Ingredients: Per 4 servings
- 8 artichokes
- 3 ½ oz ham
- ½ clove of garlic
- 1 onion, small
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
- ¾ oz dried mushrooms, already soaked
- 3 ½ oz crustless white bread
- pepper to taste
- 3 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Remove the outer leaves of the artichokes, trim them, cut off the stalks and also remove the heart, which will be minced and used for the stuffing.
Chop together the fistful of mushrooms soaked in warm water, squeezed out and finely sliced, the prosciutto, garlic, spring onion, parsley and celery, some soft breadcrumbs and a pinch of pepper.
Fill the artichokes with this stuffing and arrange them in a pan adding some extra-virgin olive oil.
When they are well-browned in the oven at 400°F, pour into the pan a little water to finish off the cooking. Serve warm.
The artichoke plant is originally from the countries lining the Mediterranean Sea. Even though it is not know when artichokes were cultivated for the first time, it is fairly certain that the Etruscans began growing them. In general, it seems as though all the ancient populations knew and loved this spiny vegetable: the Egyptians used to eat artichoke hearts, while the Greeks and Romans would cook artichokes in honey, vinegar and cumin, believing that they were an aphrodisiac able to improve fertility. At the beginning of the Middle Ages, however, the artichoke became unpopular in Europe, to the point of having to be reintroduced to Italy by the Saracens, during their domination of Sicily. The artichoke plant then spread across the rest of the world.
Artichokes were one of Catherine de’ Medici’s favorite food. It was even reported that, having married Henry II of France, Queen Catherine attended the wedding reception of mark in 1570 where she ended up with indigestion for having eaten too many artichokes.
Catherine, however, was not the only artichoke-loving monarch. Louis XIV, the Sun King, used to stuff himself with artichokes, probably, in part, because they were known aphrodisiacs.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the French emigrants brought the artichoke plant to the US, and more precisely, to Louisiana. From there, artichokes spread across America. During the beginning of the 20th century, the artichoke industry in the US was taken over by mafia boss, Ciro Terranova, a.k.a. Whitey. Apparently, the Whitey’s artichoke trafficking was so important that he was able to convince the mayor of New York, Fiorello La Guardia, to declare the sales and possession of artichokes illegal, even if La Guardia was a huge artichoke lover.
Did you known that...
The Spanish were the ones to bring the artichoke plant to California?
Thanks to the favorable climate there, artichokes spread quickly. In fact, Castroville, a small city on the California coast, is the self-proclaimed World Center of Artichokes. Since 1949, the city has played host to the Artichoke Festival, where every year some young lady is crowned Artichoke Queen.
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