Maltese Stuffed Artichokes
This is a recipe from my Maltese grandmother Antonia. She has always enjoyed making soup, pizza, pasta, pastizzi (a Maltese pasty somewhat like a stuffed croissant), homemade ravioli, gnocchi, riceballs, drinking tea, sewing, knitting, crocheting and gardening. Now that she is living in a retirement home and cooking a lot less, it’s my mom and my sister’s job to preserve her recipes. She and my mom taught me a lot about cooking. I wish I’d learned as much Maltese! My sister and I always begged Nana to cook us artichokes. Now we get to make them for her! <3
Mostly I just remember Kif inti? How are you? from listening to her speak Maltese on the phone with family, and Qaqoċċ Artichokes.
Here’s my version of her recipe for Maltese stuffed artichokes.
Maltese stuffed artichokes
3-4 large round artichokes (1 per person)
2-3 cups water
1/2 bunch fresh curly parsley
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1-2 cups bread crumbs
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1/8 cup of vinegar (I use apple cider, white or other is fine)
Large artichokes are best since they are easier to stuff. Rinse your artichokes under running water. Turn them upside down and literally bash the tops of them against a counter or cutting board several times while the stem is still on. This serves 2 purposes: making sure there is no dirt inside them and opening up the leaves. Believe me, they can take it. They come from the thistle family- thorny and tough. They even sound like Maltese people. Anyway, rinse in between the leaves.
Now chop off the stems very close to the bottom of the artichokes, leave a few millimetres of stem. Cut them straight as they will sit on their stems to steam.
In a large pot, place your artichokes leaves facing upward and pour in the water until it just meets the bottom of them. You don’t want the water to boil the artichokes. You will need to refill it after about 20 mins of steaming. Add the vinegar.
Now chop your garlic and parsley very finely and place them in a medium sized bowl. Add all your other ingredients and mix thoroughly. It will smell delicious. Don’t eat it! Now use this mixture to stuff between the leaves of the artichoke. Use a spoon and your fingers to help you open the leaves and try to be thorough, stuff them as much or as little as you like, but know that you cannot stuff each leaf, and be careful, they are sharp vegetables.
Cover the artichokes and steam them for 40-50mins (refilling water after 20min)- they should turn dark green and pull off easily. Serve hot- unlike French or other styles of cooking artichokes, these don’t need a dipping sauce as they are already flavoured. Be careful of the thorny leaves.
I’m pretty sure they are full of antioxidants, but mildly poisonous. My tongue always goes a little numb after eating them.