It took me a long time to come around to the prickly artichoke. For the longest time, this vegetable seemed like too much work for too little food—there's peeling, scraping, poking, and snipping involved in most preparations. But in the last few years, I've come to appreciate the slow process as well as the slight grassy sweetness of the heart and the meditative undertaking of eating the flesh off the tiny leaves.
Louisa Shafia's stuffed artichokes recipe in The New Persian Kitchen adds another couple layers of greatness to the humble artichoke. To the center she adds a subtly fragrant and fluffy ricotta, egg, and saffron filling that puffs and browns over a long slow roasting time. Drizzled atop is a brilliant mixture of lemon juice, dried mint, and grape seed oil that permeates the delicate leaves a reduced sauce in the pan perfect for greedy dipping and slurping.
Why I picked this recipe: Artichokes are coming into their prime right now. What better way to eat them than stuffed with a warm, fluffy ricotta mixture and doused with a tangy lemon-mint oil?
What worked: This recipe represents artichokes at their best.
What didn't: My artichokes were on the smaller size, and so I had enough filling to stuff at least three, if not four, of them. They also needed only an hour of roasting time to turn tender.
Suggested tweaks: You could certainly play with the flavors in the ricotta mixture if you'd like; fresh mint would be a lovely counterpoint to the dried herb in the sauce.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.