peeling a leaf off a stuffed artichoke to eat

Trying a Traditional Stuffed Artichoke (carciofi ripieni)

by | May 12, 2023

As a backyard gardener with at least six (and counting) perennial artichoke plants, it’s probably no surprise that I’m always looking for new ways to eat them. This Spring I set out to try some version of a stuffed artichoke, and this traditional stuffed artichoke from Calabria, Italy caught my eye.

I’m not a professional chef or cook. In many ways, I thought that this would exclude me from ever sharing how we enjoy our garden-to-table meals. I mean, why would anyone ever come to me for anything cooking related?! Additionally, personal tastebuds are so vast and different, I was honestly intimidated at the thought of sharing recipes online. Thankfully I came to my senses and realized that, as long as I’m up front about it, sharing my own journey to learning how to cook with my garden harvests could be something of value to other gardeners too.

Artichokes in Italy

Which brings me to today. This was my first attempt at making a traditional Italian stuffed artichoke. On a previous trip to Italy, Sam and I saw many dishes that used artichokes. At one particular restaurant, we decided to order the fried artichoke as an appetizer.  I still remember looking cluelessly at our waiter when the plate arrived and asking him how to eat the artichoke we ordered. He looked baffled actually, as I suspect he had never met anyone who didn’t know how to eat an artichoke. To this day, I’m still a little embarrassed about the whole thing, but it really did kickstart a passion for celebrating artichokes and conquering my fear of how to prepare them.

bowl of assorted purple and green globe artichokes

This is just an example of how bountiful perennial vegetables can be in the garden. They are an incredible long term investment for an edible landscape. For example, I’ve still got the same artichokes from several years ago and we harvest incredible amounts every Spring.

Carciofi Ripieni (Stuffed Artichokes)

The Italian name for what I’m making today is called ‘carciofi ripieni’ which translates to ‘stuffed artichokes’. This dish is often made with just breadcrumbs and parmesan, but I was happy to find a version that used ground meat. In fact, some websites provided an option for both types of stuffing! All credit for this recipe goes to Angela Palermo who shares the whole process and recipe in this YouTube video. I’m just here to share my experience making it at home! According to Angela, this traditional stuffed artichoke is a recipe that she would make with her Mom, who is from the region of Calabria. Most of the recipes I found were from Siciliy and the Southern regions of Italy.

Stuffed artichokes are traditionally made using large artichokes, especially the ones where there are no thorns at the tips of the leaves. The ones I’m using for this recipe are ‘improved green globe’ artichokes from plants in my garden that I grew from seed (the seeds are available at Botanical Interests). You can read more about our backyard artichoke patch and growing artichokes in Growing artichokes FAQ.

soaking artichokes to get rid of bugs

I submerged my artichokes under water, weighing them down with a plate. Some earwigs definitely crawled out!

Getting rid of bugs in artichokes

Would this be a true garden-to-table blog without mentioning the creepy critters that I had to deal with before cooking? In the past, I’ve rarely had issues with earwigs in my artichokes, but this time was different. I highly suspect there were earwigs in my artichokes because I let them grow to such a large size (usually I harvest early) and therefore there were many leaves and folds for earwigs to hide! To make sure all the bugs were gone before preparing my traditional stuffed artichokes, I followed the advice from a commenter on Instagram and covered my artichoke heads with water. To keep the artichokes submerged, I placed a plate over the top. Eerily enough, a few earwigs climbed out!

Preparing your artichokes for stuffing

After getting rid of any bugs, I cut the stems off the artichokes, and also cut off the tops to create a flat surface. I also removed the toughest outer leaves. 

To help the artichokes become more pliable, I took about 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt per artichoke, and sprinkled it over the top and down into the leaves. Next, I sprinkled some red wine vinegar over each one and left them to sit for about thirty minutes. 

After thirty minutes, the artichokes were much easier to “open up” and I turned them upside down to get rid of any remaining vinegar inside. 

artichoke sliced and prepared for cooking

The first step to stuffing artichokes is getting them ready to be stuffed. Using some salt and vinegar helps to make the leaves more pliable.

Filling Ingredients for Carciofi Ripieni (Italian stuffed artichokes)

*Recipe from Angela Palermo’s YouTube channel with a couple changes

I made this recipe using 3 large globe artichokes. I had enough leftover stuffing to create about 15 meatballs for Italian Wedding Soup the next day.

1 pound ground beef ( I used 80/20)

1 teaspoon kosher salt *the original recipe doesn’t give a salt amount. This would be the most salt I’d use, any more would have been too salty for me. 

1 cup breadcrumbs

70 grams of freshly grated parmesan *the original recipe calls for 100g, but I thought 70 was good, and I reserved enough to sprinkle the tops of my stuffed artichokes.

1 onion, finely diced

A handful of fresh parsely, finely chopped

A sprig of thyme and a sprig of oregano, both chopped finely.

2 eggs, beat them slightly

2 cloves of garlic (minced or I use a garlic press)

water *only a little bit if necessary to bring the mixture together

You mix all this goodness together and start stuffing your artichokes! By this time, the salt and vinegar should have made the artichokes fairly pliable. To stuff the artichokes, start in the middle (around the heart) and make enough room to place some stuffing inside. Gradually add stuffing, moving in a concentric circle pattern all the way out to the outermost leaves. And yes, put a little stuffing in those outer leaves if possible too!

stuffing an artichoke with meat mixture

As you are stuffing the artichoke, keep in mind that each bit of meat you put between the leaves is going to make a flavorful bite at the end of the cooking process. You don’t need a ton of filling between each leaf.

Cooking your stuffed artichokes

I used a dutch oven to cook my stuffed artichokes. Make sure to preheat your oven to 375 degrees F while preparing this dish. After stuffing the artichokes, simply place them in your dutch oven and top each one with a good sprinkle of parmesan. Next, fill the dutch oven with some water until the water level comes a little less than halfway up the artichokes. Cover with your dutch oven lid and cook for 40-50 minutes. Due to the size of my artichokes, I cooked mine for about 45 minutes.

After the first 45 minutes, I removed the cover of my dutch oven and let the parmesan on top brown a bit. This took about 5-10 minutes (if your pan is broiler safe, you can turn on the broiler to crisp the top for like five minutes).

stuffed artichokes in a dutch oven

Remember to put a little bit of freshly grated parmesan on the top of each stuffed artichoke and fill the dutch oven with enough water.

How to eat traditional stuffed artichokes

Personally, this is where the idea of stuffed artichokes is just brilliant! To eat your stuffed artichoke creation, you peel off one leaf (see how there’s filling sitting in it?) and eat that bit of stuffing while scraping the artichoke meat off the bottom of the leaf with your teeth afterwards. Definitely keep a bowl on the table to throw the leaves in after you’ve scraped off the artichoke meat. Between the two of us, three artichokes made a perfect meal! A side salad would have been a nice addition too.

Once you have peeled off all the leaves you can start to unveil the artichoke heart! You’ll see a part in the middle of the artichoke that looks fuzzy—-this is the choke—and you can simply scrape or spoon the choke off and discard it. After removing the choke, you are left with the artichoke heart! The artichoke heart is so tender and delicious!

peeling a leaf off a stuffed artichoke to eat

Can you see the little bit of meat filling on my artichoke leaf? This makes every bite even more worth it!

the fuzzy choke on an artichoke

Here is a picture of the “choke” that should be removed and discarded. It’s a fuzzy layer that covers the heart of the artichoke.

Cheers for Carciofi Ripieni!

Lastly, you might remember my fondness for eating young, baby artichokes as grilled artichoke hearts. Admittedly, I still prefer this method of preparation/cooking when tackling large amounts of artichokes all at once. I use grilled or steamed artichoke hearts for various dishes throughout the week.  BUT LET ME TELL YOU, these traditional Calabrese stuffed artichokes will be on my Spring menu for years to come! Guests would love them too!

While Sam’s words were ‘it’s a lot of work to eat,’ I personally found it to be a really fun meal. Sure it’s messy and not fast, but peeling off each leaf requires you to stop and savor each bite. Having grown the artichokes myself, it felt like a full-on experience—a celebration of seasonal eating! I guess you’ll just have to let me know after you try some stuffed artichokes yourself.

Here are some other recipe ideas for artichokes:

Fire-Grilled Artichokes 

Make your own marinated artichokes. You’ll have to prep, pre-steam, and cool your artichokes before making them. I’ve used this recipe before, but switched the lemon juice and oil amounts because I like more bite to my dressings. They are not meant for canning or long term storage.

This Food Network recipe for marinated artichokes is also good (but more work).

Want a main dish? Check out this delicious stuffed artichoke recipe, Carciofi Ripieni

Roast your artichokes! If you’re looking for a delicious vegetarian side dish using artichokes, try this Roasted Artichoke Recipe

Raw shaved artichoke salad (I don’t have a go-to recipe, but there are lots of options if you search it).

Plant a California native shade garden

1 Comment

  1. Griffin Law Office, APC

    Oh, what a delightful culinary journey you’ve taken us on! Your vivid description of trying out the traditional stuffed artichoke recipe has left my taste buds tingling and my curiosity piqued. It’s always such a pleasure to read about someone immersing themselves in the rich tapestry of cultural cuisine.

    Your step-by-step account of preparing the artichokes, from cleaning to stuffing them with that mouthwatering mixture of breadcrumbs, garlic, herbs, and cheese, is truly captivating. It’s as if I could almost smell the aromatic flavors wafting through my screen. And the anticipation you built as you awaited the final result had me on the edge of my seat!

    Thank you for sharing this delightful adventure with us. Your enthusiasm is infectious, and I’m now inspired to try my hand at stuffed artichokes too.


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Meet Randi

Urban gardening is my jam. I’m Randi, California girl who obsessively gardens to grow food and flowers around my urban home. Seasonal, simple living is what inspires me~ I hope it will inspire you too. Join me in crafting a life and home connected to the garden Read More>>>>

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