RECIPE: Moroccan Stuffed Artichoke Hearts

Plateful of stuffed artichoke hearts and vine leaves

Do you love artichokes? We do. Here’s a healthy recipe perfect for the Middle East.

It’s springtime, and the markets of the Middle East display piles of these artichoke thistles with the succulent hearts.

The hot climates of North Africa and the Middle East produce a fantastic variety of vegetables that are easy to stuff and cook in a piquant sauce. These home-made delicacies are traditional in cultures where the housewife depends on local, seasonal produce (like in the Slow Food movement) rather than packaged foods trucked in from far away.

Take local produce, fill it, and simmer it. What could be a greener way to cook, or more delicious? It takes a little work, but it’s worth the effort for the tantalizing aroma and savory taste. (Vegetarian options are offered below.)

No fresh artichokes in your area yet? You can legitimately cook up  a bag full of frozen artichoke hearts. They are one of the few vegetables that stand up to freezing.

Moroccan Stuffed Artichoke Hearts

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons white rice

1 cup boiling, salted water

14 frozen artichoke bottoms

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup minced onion

1 cup ground beef

2 large, minced garlic cloves

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 teaspoon. sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 fresh, chopped tomatoes

2 sliced garlic cloves

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

1 cup of water, stock, or white wine

Method:

1. Boil the rice, uncovered, in the boiling salted water, for 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water and drain. Put in a medium-sized bowl.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet, add onion and cook over medium-low heat for 4 or 5 minutes.

3. Add ground beef and saute about 4 minutes or until all the meat has changed color. Take the skillet off the flame.

4. To the meat, add the minced garlic, cilantro, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and pepper. Mix well and add to rice. Mix the rice and meat well.

5. Sprinkle the artichoke bottoms with additional salt and pepper. Spoon stuffing into them. Spoon the remaining 1 tablespoon oil into a heavy pan or casserole and add the artichokes.

6. To the pan add the chopped tomatoes, sliced garlic, turmeric, and a little salt, plus more pepper to taste.

7. Add 1 cup of water, stock or white wine to the pan. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook over low heat for half an hour or until artichoke bottoms are tender. Serve this dish hot, with a little of the sauce and chopped tomatoes spooned over each artichoke.

Turn this dish vegetarian.

  • Eliminate the ground beef and cinnamon.
  • Use brown rice or cooked quinoa.
  • Quickly toast 1/2 cup of pine nuts in a hot skillet and mix them with the rice.

More about spices loved in the Middle East here:

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