Spring Artichokes with Lemon Rice are braised in lemon then stuffed with a delightful mix of lemon rice, minced pork sausage, garlic, onions and fresh herbs and topped off with a little parmesan cheese and baked in the oven until the cheese is melty.
Celebrating Spring with Spring Artichokes with Lemon Rice
We love this recipe because it is a complete meal with a delicious special treat of small tender spring artichokes. It is almost like two treats in one with the delicious lemon rice with sausage and cheese and then an outer layer of delicious artichokes to dig right into.
Spring has sprung and it is time to eat seasonally and now is the time to make some dishes with some fresh artichokes. Looking at fresh artichokes reminds me of my last visit to Italy and visiting the markets with their bounty of fresh vegetables. Visiting the wet market when traveling always inspires me to cook.
There were so many varieties of artichokes and of course all of them had a beautiful long stem. Did you know there are at least 9 different types of artichokes? There is the baby anzio, big heart, classic green globe, siena, mercury, omaha, fiesole, chianti, king. Of course, as we are not all blessed to live in Italy so we have only a few that might be available to us. The big heart and the classic green globe are 2 types artichokes that work well for stuffing artichokes.
Artichokes in the spring reminds me of living at home and having a very special treat with Mom’s Best Italian Stuffed Artichokes that are steamed whole until tender perfection.
Maybe it is just me but I feel that all of that stuffing on the sides of the artichoke is a bit too rich and almost takes away from the tender sweetness of the actual artichoke. In addition there is that whole “choke” thing in the middle that can really freak out anyone less than 10 years of age and a big mess a the table as your guests try to carefully remove the choke without impaling themselves.
I have made a lightened up version of Spring Artichokes with Lemon Rice with fresh lemons and herbs and is gluten-free too. I have removed the choke and cleaned up the artichoke so all that is left are the tender center hearts of the artichokes and the tender artichoke leaves that are drizzled with the fresh lemon juice.
Lemons are a requirement when working with Artichokes
Lemon juice is your friend when working with fresh artichokes. When you cut into an artichoke, the oxidation process will cause browning. To prevent this problem soak your freshly cut artichokes into a bath of lemon water. The more lemons the better. In addition the lemons give the artichokes a fresh flavor.
You do not have to use pork sausage in this recipe, however this was my attempt to get picky teenagers to try something new. Maybe you want to make your version vegan then you could really mix it up a bit and add some fresh veggies or maybe add some olives and capers too. If you have a lactose intolerance you could skip the addition of parmesan cheese and just only braise your artichokes with the filling inside. I chose to bake my artichokes after putting in the lemon rice filling and topping with cheese so that the cheese would get melty and I could have a little crispy topping.
However, you could also make the entire Spring Artichokes with Lemon Rice dish in one big pot with a lid and braise it if you like your stuffing soft and supple. The choice is totally yours.
More Delicious Spring Menu Recipe Ideas
Spring Artichokes with Lemon Rice
- 3 whole lemons
enough to fill up to at least 1 inch in pot
- 2 artichokes
large washed with stems
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
(1 tablespoon for lemon rice and one for drizzling on top just before baking)
- 2 links Italian sausage
removed from casing (can use mild or hot depending on your preference)- optional
- 1/2 onions
peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
peeled and minced
- 3 cups basmati rice
cooked (day old left over rice works great- can also use brown rice, wild rice, etc)
- salt and black pepper
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 2 green onions
- 2 tbsp flat parsley chopped
- 1/2 cup tomato
chopped - optional
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese optional
- In a pan add enough water so that it is about 1 inch high and squeeze 2 of the lemons in the water bath.
- Wash the artichokes and then using kitchen scissors trim off any of the hard ends and broken ends of the leaves. Next, cut the the artichokes in half lengthwise. whilst you are working with one half of the artichoke put the other half in the lemon water to prevent it from turning brown. Using a melon baller or spoon, scoop out the prickly choke and keep the tender heart intact. Trim the stem as desired. Immediately plunge the artichoke into the lemon bath. Repeat process with other half and other artichoke.
- Put salt in the lemon bath water and put the artichokes heart side down in the pan and put a lid on a simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until just fork tender. Pre-heat your oven to 190 degree C/375 degrees F.
- While your artichokes are braising in the lemon water on top of the stove, prepare your lemon rice mixture. In a frying pan or wok, add olive oil, the sausage (removed from casing) and cook about 3-5 minutes or until no longer pink, add onions and cook until translucent, add garlic and cook just until aromatic, add cooked rice, salt and pepper to taste, lemon zest, green onions, flat parsley, and tomato and stir until well combined. Set aside.
- Remove the braised artichokes from the pan carefully and place with the heart side scooped side up in a greased oven safe dish. Spoon the lemon rice mixture into the 4 artichokes halves and top with parmesan cheese and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melty and the rice mixture is just a little crunchy on top. Remove Artichokes with a Lemon Rice Filling from the oven and drizzle a little fresh lemon juice on top. Garnish with fresh tomatoes and parsley.
- Serve Artichokes with a Lemon Rice Filling hot out of the oven with a nice tossed salad.