Grandma’s stuffed artichokes
Artichokes, especially from Sicily, start appearing in green grocer markets all over Italy by early spring. Their hearty green leaves and full bodied shapes invite shoppers to bring them home for the day’s lunch or dinner menu. They can be fried, boiled, cut up into a pasta sauce or added to a fritatta. My Sicilian grandmother always lightly stuffed them. Artichoke stuffing could include cold cuts, fresh or aged cheese, anchovies and eggs. My grandmother’s recipe was very plain and simple – and scrumptious. Here it is. Servings: 4 (as side dish)
NOTE: There is little stuffing in this recipe because it is prepared as a side vegetable dish. If used as an entree, use multiples of the stuffing ingredients and oil.
2 jumbo artichokes (about 450g/1lb each)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
4 tsp pecorino romano cheese
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 large sprigs fresh parsley, finely chopped (1 tbs)
2 large sprigs fresh mint, finely chopped (1 tbs)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Squeeze juice from the lemon into a large bowl of water. Set aside.
Prepare the artichokes as follows. Cut off the stalks very close to the base so that they can easily stand upright. Discard outer tough leaves near the base. Using a serrated knife, remove the top 1/3 of each artichoke and discard. Turn the artichokes upside down and apply some pressure to open up the leaves, especially at the center. Remove the entire choke from the center. (A serrated grapefruit teaspoon works wonders here.) Place artichokes in acidulated water and set aside.
Add the next five ingredients (breadcrumbs through mint) to a small bowl and mix thoroughly.
Using a small teaspoon (demitasse, if you have one), gently stuff the layers of leaves with the stuffing, making sure to divide it equally between the two artichokes.
Place the artichokes in a small pan (for these two jumbos, I used a bread loaf pan), drizzle the oil over the tops, loosely cover with aluminum, and simmer for 50–60 minutes. Cooking time will depend on the size. Serve hot or lukewarm.
Energy:630 kJ/ 150 cals; Protein 4g; Fat 9g (includes 1g saturated fat and less than 1mg cholesterol); Available carbohydrate 10g; Fibre 5g
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Beef and prune (dried plum) tagine
If you are going to the effort of cooking a casserole, make enough for two meals. Enjoy half and freeze the rest. Serve with couscous or rice. Second time around, freshen it up with more parsley and perhaps serve with something different. Overseas readers, remember, the Australian tablespoon = 4 teaspoons. Makes 8 servings
2 tbs olive oil
2 large-ish onions, chopped
900g (2lb) trimmed gravy beef, chopped into 3–4cm (1–1½in) cubes
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tbs ground coriander
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon chilli flakes, or more to taste
400g (14oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
450 g (1lb) sweet potato, peeled, chopped into 2 cm chunks
3/4 cup pitted prunes (dried plums), halved
150g (5oz) green beans, trimmed, sliced into 3
400g (14oz) can chick peas, drained and rinsed
80g (3oz) baby spinach leaves
3 tbs chopped parsley