These baked artichokes with hazelnut olive pesto not only look like a piece of art, but they make for an excellent appetizer for when you have guests and want to make something easy and tasty, but fancy looking. Also, they are lectin-free, dairy-free and healthy so they suit everyone.
A fun and healthy sharing meal experience
This recipe is more than one year old, and it was published in In The Moment Magazine, June 2018 issue. The feature my recipe was included in was “Edible Flowers” – how beautiful is that? I hadn’t even realized the artichoke we eat is a flower – in fact the edible part consists in the flower buds before the flowers come into bloom.
This is how it looked in the magazine. So pretty!
So it’s spring and it’s the season for artichokes – although in California is all your round, but I started seeing them more in grocery stores – so I thought why not sharing it now. Artichokes may seem intimidating – they were for me before I tried to cook them first – but it’s actually not difficult at all. It’s more difficult to eat them if you ask me, but it’s a fun and interesting meal experience.
Firstly, since you would eat part of the leaves, I would pick an organic artichoke, and one that is in good shape. Then, you have to know what’s inside a a sectioned artichoke, beside the heart that we all know from eating canned artichokes. There is something fluffy in the middle, a fuzzy, fibrous center, or a choke (where the name is coming from) that has to be removed. There are few ways of doing that, if you are interested to explore more I recommend this video – How to steam and eat an artichoke. However, I did it in a slightly different way.
This is how they look after steaming, before and after stuffing:
I wanted them sectioned in half, so I first steamed the artichoke, whole, then sectioned it and then removed the choke from each half, with a pairing knife and the help of a spoon. I filled them with the pesto and then baked them for 30 or so – you don’t want the nuts to burn. The artichoke is already cooked from the steaming, so the baking is just for extra texture and to infuse all the flavors. Some people cut the tips of the leaves, but I didn’t, you don’t eat them anyway and they help holding the leaf while scraping the edible part with your teeth. So your choice. I don’t think is wrong either way.
And this is how they look after baking:
This is a great appetizer or entertainment dish as it can be easily shared. To eat them, you just pull out the leaves one by one, with your hands, eat the pesto and scrap the flesh on each leave with your teeth. Once you reach the core (the best part), you can cut and share.
Baked Artichokes with Hazelnuts and Olive Pesto
A fun and healthy sharing meal experience.
- For pesto:
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts (or you can use different nuts if you want)
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (can be replaced with Parmigiano Reggiano)
- 1/2 cup pitted green olives
- bunch of parsley (or you can replace with basil)
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- The artichoke:
- 1 big whole artichoke (You will use the outer leaves, so make sure they are in great shape when you choose them).
- one lemon (for juice)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- garlic powder
Wash and steam the whole artichoke for 30 minutes.
While the artichoke cooks, you can make the pesto by mixing all the pesto ingredients in a food processor.
After 30 minutes of steaming, section the artichoke in half, scoop the fuzzy choke from the center of the artichoke, on both halves (check the video I linked in my post if you are not sure how to do it). Squeeze lemon juice and drizzle extra virgin olive oil on both sides of the two haves (both the center part and the outer leaves). Start filling the artichoke with the pesto. Fill the center and in between the leaves as much as you can, gently separating the leaves. Drizzle with more olive oil, lemon and sprinkle some garlic powder. Place on a parchment paper on a baking dish.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 350F (175C).
Take out and cover with aluminum foil for 10 minutes before serving.
This is a great appetizer or entertainment dish as it can be easily shared. You just pull out the leaves one by one, with your hands, eat the pesto and scrap the flesh on each leave with your teeth. Once you reach the core (the best part), you can cut and share.