There’s no appetizer more dramatic than a stuffed artichoke in all its regal glory. Each tender olive oil-laced leaf holding onto a treasure chest of Italian ingredients, and all baked just long enough to meld those exotic tastes together. This simple Cajun recipe version makes a culinary statement and packs a wallop of flavor.
I’ve done this classic New Orleans dish before using lump crabmeat, even crawfish tails, but recently I was asked how to make a stuffed artichoke with the same spectacular results but simpler and with less expense. I decided to take on my friend’s challenge and got to thinking about ready-made ingredients that deliver complimenting flavors to a fresh globe artichoke, and I stumbled upon a winner.
First off, I would never dream of making this Cajun recipe without access to extra-large, fresh-picked globe artichokes with unblemished leaves. Living in Louisiana, artichokes are not a staple crop as they are in California, and most of our artichokes are trucked in. So, in the spring when I see the large ones (I mean extra-large) in the produce bins, I automatically think of this dish.
The next idea for my simpler and cheaper Cajun recipe version was the jars of olive salad mix that line my pantry shelf. It’s sold most everywhere in Louisiana, or you can buy it online at Cajungrocer. An essential ingredient in my obsessive/compulsive love of the traditional Sicilian muffuletta sandwich, I always have a jar handy. This inexpensive, store-bought ingredient (about $6 per jar) contains a jolt of flavor with olives, carrots, capers, celery, onions, and other pickled vegetables along with Italian herbs and spices all marinated in the perfect Mediterranean mix. If you can source a quality jarred olive salad mix where you live, the prep time for this Cajun recipe is quite short and simple, but if you make your own (recipe follows), you will need to plan ahead.
Next, bread crumbs can be store-bought in a container (Progresso is my favorite), if you do not make your own like I do. Parmesan cheese is always best freshly grated, but even I will admit that the big green can of Kraft cheese, when mixed with the other dominant ingredients, works beautifully. And the addition of packaged, grated mozzarella is a gooey cheesy addition that holds it all together. A spritz of good olive oil and a squeeze of lemon and you’ve got it.
I like making this in the morning and letting it all come together in the refrigerator during the day. The mingling of flavors adds depth to the overall dish and makes it simple to just bake-and-serve right before your party. Give this Cajun recipe version of Stuffed Artichoke a try for dramatic, as well as inexpensive and easy, results.
- 1 (10-ounce) jar green olives, pimiento-stuffed
- 1 cup Italian black olives, pitted
- ½ cup celery, chopped coarse
- ½ cup carrots, chopped coarse
- ½ cup cauliflower, chopped coarse
- ½ cup jarred or fresh red pepper slices
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon capers
- ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 extra-large globe artichoke
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 (16-ounce) jar olive salad mix, such as Boscoli
- 1 (15-ounce) canister bread crumbs, such as Progresso
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 fresh lemon, halved with seeds removed
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Place all ingredients in a food processor. Quick pulse until chopped but not pureed. Cover and refrigerate overnight and up to a week or more.
- In a large pot of boiling water, add the artichoke along with a pinch of salt and the lemon juice. Once the water returns to a boil, cover the pot, lower the heat, and let simmer until the bottom stem of the artichoke is tender when pierced with a knife, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Remove the artichoke and let drain top-down on paper towels removing as much moisture as possible. Let cool for stuffing.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the jar of olive salad mix. Add the entire canister of bread crumbs along with the Parmesan cheese. Add ½ cup of the grated mozzarella along with the black pepper. Squeeze 1 half of the lemon into the mixture and stir to combine all. A little at a time, add olive oil until the mixture has the texture of wet sand and you can pinch it together, and it will hold.
- Starting at the bottom of the artichoke, hold down the leaves with one hand and stuff the leaves full of the mixture. Working your way to the top of the artichoke, pull down each leaf to stuff it to the center. Any leftover stuffing should be added to the leaves to have an equal distribution. Add the remaining mozzarella cheese to the leaves and drizzle over a bit more of olive oil.
- Place the artichoke on a 2 large squares of aluminum foil and place on a baking tray. Bring the sides of the foil up to form a tent around the artichoke and pinch to seal. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes and remove. Let sit for 15 minutes before peeling back the foil. Squeeze the remaining lemon half over the artichoke, finish with a light drizzle of olive oil, and serve on a large platter with a separate bowl for discarding the leaves.
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