Spring is here. I wish I can say the same for everyone, but according to my Mom who lives in Queens, NY it doesn’t feel like spring yet with the remainder of a blizzard that hit on the official day.
Though it may not feel like spring outside for some, this artichoke with pesto bread crumbs will give you the impression of warm sunshine. At least, I hope it does. Sweet artichoke with heaping spoons of bright, fragrant spring herbs and citrus fruit (lemon is the shining fruit in here) is something we need to welcome some spring in.
And bread crumbs, we need bread crumbs to add a textural component. I happen to find a hamburger bun in the freezer that needed some love, toasted it well and voila! breadcrumbs.
I served this with a tabouleh-ish side dish that I made with quinoa, cucumbers, onions, mint, and watercress to keep the spring flavors strong, but just had to let these artichokes take center stage. You will understand why should you decide to make it. I add lots of citrus to my pesto; it really highlights the fresh basil and parsley. And horseradish, for a little vinegar zing; something you won’t notice but when left out, it’s kind of meh.
The most work with this recipe is trimming the artichokes and washing the herbs, the rest is super easy to do and yields a beautiful result. If you are looking for some Passover or Easter food inspiration try this recipe. For Passover, use gluten free/dairy free matzoh farfel since GF bread has leavening and is considered chametz, or leave it out. But don’t leave out the pesto, that is a necessary piece of spring in here.
I made this for dinner last night and eating with our fingers was allowed and encouraged to get every last bit of meat out of the artichoke.
Gosh, it was good.
Oh, and be careful not to eat the choke that sit directly above the artichoke heart (the tender meat on the bottom). They look like spiny things that form a tight circle, revealed when all the leaves have been removed, avoid those. Other than that, go ahead and savor every messy bite making sure to lick your fingers. This is one messy you’re gonna love.
Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone. Enjoy!
For the artichokes:
4 whole globe artichokes, trimmed
1 lemon, cut into wedges
water for boiling
For the pesto:
1 gluten/dairy free hamburger bun or 2 pieces bread, toasted (I used a frozen Canyon Bakehouse Hamburger Bun), or a vegan bread (Food for Life) to make this vegan
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
3 teaspoons salt, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed black pepper, divided
1 teaspoon ground garlic powder
1/4 cup pine nuts
6-8 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon horseradish relish (I use Bubbe’s gluten free, dairy free)
zest of 2 lemons, save some for garnish
juice from the lemons
3 big handfuls basil, stems removed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 bunch fresh parsley, stems trimmed, save a few leaves for garnish
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
Preparation for the artichoke:
Prepare a pot with about 4 quarts of water, and set on high heat to boil.
Meanwhile, wash and trim stems and sharp needle ends from the outer leaves. Squeeze a lemon wedge over the artichoke as you cut each to prevent browning.
Place all into the boiling water (carefully!). Squeeze about a teaspoon of lemon into the water and add 2 teaspoons kosher salt (the remaining salt is for the pesto). Add lemon wedges, including the squeezed ones. Boil on medium high for 15-20 minutes with a small heatproof place pressed directly on the artichokes.
Meanwhile, onto the pesto.
Note: The place will help the artichokes remain upright since they do tend to topple over sideways when boiling, if left uncovered. I do the same when I make stuffed cabbage or collard greens so they don’t unravel.
Drain and turn over each artichoke to remove any excess water. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees (170 C)
Preparation for the pesto:
Add torn up pieces of bread into a food processor (I used a mini food processor), then fennel seeds, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and garlic powder. Grind into coarse breadcrumbs. Remove 3/4 of the bread crumbs, set aside.
Ignore the parsley on the edge of the processor, it goes in later. I finely minced some for a quinoa based tabouleh-ish side to go with this for dinner.
Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and the remaining ingredients, mix until it reaches a pesto consistency. Taste to see if it needs extra lemon juice, salt or pepper to your taste.
I don’t remove the whole stem on the parsley but do so for the basil.
Basil did go in I forgot to take the photo, but you get the idea …
Note: If it’s too thick to drip off a spoon, add 1 extra tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. It shouldn’t be pourable like a dressing, rather more like a relish type consistency.
Place the artichokes upright into an oven safe baking dish, spread the leaves as much as you can without ripping. Spoon in the pesto breadcrumb mixture over the artichokes and in between leaves. Then add large pinches of seasoned breadcrumbs over the pesto.
After I put some in the bowl (below) I realized it wouldn’t all fit side by side with the breadcrumbs so I spooned it straight out of my mini food processor. Duh.
Bake for 15 minutes. Garnish with lemon zest and parsley sprigs. Serve hot or warm.
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