Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An Italian Tradition: food, food, and oh wait, more food

Like most big Italian families, my family likes to eat, especially around the holidays. Don't get me wrong: we are equal opportunity eaters. We don't require some holiday to get together and pounds delciousness...nope, not us. We'll use any excuse really--from a birthday to a holiday to a Sunday. In fact, growing up, I went to my Grandmother Yola's house every single Sunday for a huge family dinner. There were 16 of us that gathered around the table every week. The usual meal was pasta topped with my Grandmother's gravy. And what feast could be complete without a bowl of steaming hot meatballs and a loaf of Italian bread?

These days, we don't eat as many huge pasta Sunday dinners, but we sure know how to do it up (aka waaay over do it) for a holiday. To give you an idea, this past Thanksgiving we started with a ton of picky appetizer type foods, before we moved on to the traditional Italian antipasto (and by traditional I mean best to ever exist) and then indulged in the full turkey dinner. The real disgustingness occurred during dessert when we had 9 pies! After all of that eating, we did not have room for one of my most favorite holiday traditions: the stuffed artichoke. I don't know why we eat the artichokes last, but I know that for as long as I've been alive, that is just what we have done. So, like every year, no one could fit the artichokes at the end of the meal, so we all take them home and enjoy them the next day.

Usually, my Grandmother makes the artichokes but because she is getting a bit older and I am the world's best Granddaughter, I decided to make them this year. And, because I am so proud of myself and because they turned out peeerfect, I am going to be nice and share the awesome recipe with all of you! And, good news, these artichokes are a tasty treat that are good for you!

Start by rinsing the artichokes. Then, cut the bottoms (leave a little stem) and a bit of the tops off of the artichokes. They should look like this:

Next, combine breadcrumbs, evoo, parsley (dried) salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a large bowl. Mix ingredients together. (And, if you're really hardcore like Yola and I, you'll use your hands to mix). Your mixture should look like this (without the shadow of your iphone):


Next, grab an artichoke and use your fingers to open it up a bit. Hold artichoke over bowl and grab a handful of breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the artichoke, ensuring that the breadcrumbs fill in the space between the leaves. Stuff all of your artichokes and put them in a pan. Make sure you pack the artichokes tightly into the pan, so that they are all standing up and not leaning. Fill the pan about halfway with water. At this point, your artichokes should look amazing like this:

Put the pan with the water and artichokes on the stove and cook until the leaves are tender and you can easily break them off. While the artichokes are cooking, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. When the leaves on the artichoke are tender, remove the pan from the stove and put it in the oven for 15-20 minutes. They should now look like this:

Note: you can serve your artichokes right away or keep them overnight. If you choose to keep them overnight, wait to bake them until before being served. If you like leftovers, they can also be heated up in the microwave.

Your mouth is probably watering by now looking at the pictures of my masterpieces (and if it isn't I don't know what is wrong with you). Now for the good news...these tasty little treats are good for you! Sure the huge bowl of breadcrumbs looks like trouble, but when you think about how many breadcrumbs end up in one artichoke, it's not much. I would estimate that in one artichoke, there is probably 1 tsp of evoo (1 WW pt) and 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs (2 WW pts). Combine that with the artichoke (1 WW pt) and you have a phenomenal 4 point meal.

Finally, I leave you with a warning and a secret.

Warning: These suckers are a HUGE hit. If you bring them somewhere, they will all get eaten and you will become known for them and then you'll always have to make them.

Secret: They are not that hard to make! You'll be famous for your artichokes and people will think you slaved for hours and hours to make the Italian tradition when you really didn't!

Just wait until I post pictures of my Grandmother's famous Christmas Cookies (15 types). Sorry though, you won't be getting those recipes...they are a secret (and also don't go with the whole healthygirl theme)!

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