These deeply flavorful vegetables can be served in individual portions or deconstructed into a casserole. For an extra punch, use freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese; Parmesan will have a more pronounced flavor if purchased in a wedge than grated, and Romano is perfect if you're looking for a more intense, salty flavor. From the book "Mad Hungry," by Lucinda Scala Quinn (Artisan Books).
- 1 lemon, halved
- 6 whole artichokes
- 3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
Squeeze the lemon halves into a large bowl and fill the bowl with cold water. Trim the bottom off each artichoke. Trim off the tough outer leaves. Snip the thorny tips off the top leaves. As each one is completed, place it in the lemon water to prevent it from discoloring.
In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, garlic, and parsley and season with pepper. Pull each leaf open slightly from each artichoke and stuff a little filling into the opening. Place the artichokes snugly side by side in a large pan with a tight-fitting lid. Add 1 inch of water to the pot. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and steam until the bottoms of the artichokes are tender, 35 to 45 minutes; a knife should insert easily. Make sure the water doesn't boil dry. Add more water if necessary.
Serve each artichoke hot, on an individual plate.