In my opinion artichokes are the forgotten Mediterranean vegetable. It is almost absent in our Middle Eastern kitchen although it is very versatile and can be cooked in many ways. Todays recipe is a favorite of mine... Stuffed Artichokes with béchamel.
I have never prepared this dish with fresh artichokes, they need work and time and I am always out of both. So the alternative is frozen. They are equally good minus all the hassle. You just have to make sure they are peeled fully and no leaves are still attached or the fibrous "choke" center. Remove them if you find them, in order to do that you need to allow it to thaw first. This will also reduce the cooking time in the oven.
For this recipe you need béchamel sauce, I mentioned how to make this many times on my Instagram account, you will find the video in the highlights. But I will go over it in the recipe again for those who need it.
- 1 pack of frozen artichokes (around 10 pieces)
- 1 chopped onion
- 250 grams minced beef
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper + 1/2 teaspoon
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon all spice
- 1/4 cup finely chopped green bell peppers
- 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow bell peppers
- 1/4 cup finely chopped carrots
- 1/4 cup finely chopped tomatoes
- 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste (divided)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup cheese (mozzarella/kashkawan/cheddar)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups milk
- Salt and pepper
*Start by leaving the frozen artichoke bag out to thaw, and remove any bits that need removing
*Make the minced beef mix. In a pan, sauté the chopped onions until soft and translucent. Add the minced beef and cook on medium heat until the meat changes color.
*Sprinkle the salt and spices and cook until it is cooked through. That is the meat done.
*Plate the meat in a bowl once slightly cooled and add the tomatoes, bell peppers and carrots and mix in a tablespoon of tomato paste. This will help bind the whole thing together. Set aside.
*Make the béchamel. In a steel pan, melt the butter and mix in the flour. Toast them for a minute or so and then gradually add in the milk. The key is "gradually". If you add the milk in all at once you will end up with flour lumps and the béchamel won't thicken.
*Once the milk heats the béchamel will thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste. When it boils it is ready.
*Now we assemble. Place the artichokes in an oven dish.
*Fill them up with the beef mixture we prepared. Make sure to pile this up, the tomato paste we added will help the beef stay in place.
*We need to make a simple sauce to help hydrate the artichokes in the oven and also provide a sauce to the dish in order for it to be eaten with rice. In a bowl, mix in a tablespoon or two of tomato paste, salt and pepper and olive oil. Mix them well and pour them in between the artichokes.
*Pour the bechamel over each piece or if you're like me and love bechamel you can cover the whole top. The more the better.
*Top that with the cheese and bake in a 180* oven for an hour or until the artichokes are cooked all the way through and the top is nice and golden.
*Serve along side some basmati rice and Bon Appetit!