Baked Artichokes with Persillade Crust

Baked Artichokes with Persillade Crust Recipe

Baked artichokes with persillade crust is a great appetizer. It's light, healthy and flavorful. First, the artichokes are boiled, then covered with a lemon parsley bread mixture and roasted in the oven until golden brown.

I made the persillade crust using stale brioche. It gives the crust a subtle sweetness. I also added a little brown sugar and honey Dijon mustard to reinforce the sweetness, as well as to balance the distinct, slightly bitter taste of artichoke. Lemon and parsley tie all the flavors together. I served the breaded artichokes with a bowl of homemade blue-cheese ranch salad dressing on the side. It's a delicious way to welcome the arrival of Spring!

Ingredients

Yields: 6 servings

12 baby artichokes
2 slices brioche, slightly toasted and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon brown sugar
1-½ teaspoons sea salt (or regular salt)
¼ teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground
1-½ teaspoons honey Dijon mustard
1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese powder (see tips)
1 tablespoon avocado oil (or more olive oil)


Directions

Prepping the artichokes:

Place a large bowl filled with water in the sink. Swirl each artichoke upside down in the water. Make sure there is no dirt trapped between the leaves. Remove the tough outer leaves. Cut the stems and trim the top a little, using a sharp knife. Cut the thorns from the leaves using a pair of scissors or a sharp knife.

Boiling the artichokes:

Place the artichokes in a large pot. Cover with 1-½ to 2 cups of water. The level of water should go one third of the way up the artichokes.

Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Throw the cut leaves and stems into the water of the pot (If you're planning on drinking the artichoke liquid, check the tip section). Cook for about 30 minutes until the bottoms of the vegetables are tender. A good way to check is to poke the choke with a paring knife.

Remove the artichokes from the pot and let stand for about 5-10 minutes. Drain the artichokes thoroughly and let them cool a little (do not rinse and let the liquid evaporate). Once the artichokes are cool enough to handle and have dried thoroughly, slice them in half length-wise using a sharp chef's knife. Scoop out the inside choke (inedible part) using a spoon.

Baking artichokes:

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Zest and juice the lemon. Set them aside separately.

For the lemon persillade crust, put the diced bread into a food processor and pulse several times. Add the parsley, the garlic, brown sugar, parmesan cheese and lemon zest. Pour the mixture into a bowl. Add the honey mustard and softened butter. Season with salt and white pepper. Set aside.

Brush a baking pan with a little olive oil. Place the artichokes, leaf side down.

Cover and stuff with persillade crust by pressing it against the artichokes with your hands. Drizzle with olive oil. Roast the artichokes for 15 minutes. At the end of the cooking time, if  they're not golden brown enough, change your oven setting to broil for about 2-3 minutes.

Transfer the breaded artichokes to a serving platter. Drizzle with lemon juice and avocado oil. Garnish with sprigs of parsley and accompany with blue-cheese flavored ranch salad dressing (I serve it on the side as some people prefer the artichokes as is). Serve immediately. 

Bon appétit!


Tips

For an appetizer, I used baby artichokes but you could also use jumbo-size artichokes as well, because the bigger the artichoke, the bigger the heart . I like to pick artichokes with dense, tightly packed leaves and sharp thorns. The stem should be still moist with a light color, to check for freshness. 

You don't have to trim the leaves but I always find it unpleasant to be "stabbed" by an artichoke leaf.

Cooked artichokes do not refrigerate well. So prepare them right before serving.

You can keep the uncooked artichokes in the refrigerator for several days in the vegetable drawer. Make sure you wrap the stem with a moist paper towel to prevent oxidation. Or alternatively, you can put them in a vase filled with room temperature slightly sweetened water. It's pretty and it reminds you that they need to be cooked.

Some people say to add lemon juice to the cooking liquid of the artichoke so it doesn't change color but I don't think it's necessary. Artichokes, if eaten right away, still look appetizing, and I don't really like what the lemon juice does to the flavor of the vegetable itself.

Don't discard the artichoke broth. Strain it and drink it. I know it's not very tasty (slightly bitter) but go for it. As a teenager, maman always would give us the artichoke broth to drink. She used to call it the detox diet drink for smooth, flawless skin, and it does work. It's a diuretic. Maman would always praise its therapeutic qualities and I guess it stuck with me. From time to time, I go through this diet.

It's important to use fresh bread (I used brioche for a sweeter flavor) and not bread crumbs for the persillade crust because the final product will be much more moist.

If you don't mind the strong flavor, you could also add a few anchovies to the crust. You might want to lower the quantity of salt and parmesan to balance out the seasoning.

I use cilantro stems also, because that's where the flavor is the most potent.

I like to give a nice aroma to the crust with freshly-squeezed lemon juice, parmesan cheese and strongly-flavored oil (I used avocado oil).

To obtain parmesan cheese powder, finely chop a chunk of parmesan and place the pieces in a mini food processor to obtain a fine powder.

My husband Lulu tried to plant artichokes two years ago. It isn't worth it. It takes a lot of space and does not produce enough usable vegetable for the amount of work it requires. You're better buying from your local market.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on March 23, 2010.


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