When my middle daughter was about seven, a friend invited her to eat Shabbat lunch at her house. The mother put a platter of of spicy stuffed vine leaves on the table. They looked, and smelled, very appetizing. The friend looked at my daughter in a superior way and said,
“Does your mother make stuffed vine leaves?”
“No,” said my daughter, “But yesterday she made stuffed mallows.”
In my house, “stuffed stuff” means a plate of colorful vegetables stuffed with rice and ground meat, or sometimes a vegetarian version made of rice, pumpkin seeds, and herbs. We like to eat stuffed eggplants, bell peppers, zucchini, squash, and artichokes. Then there are leaves good for stuffing: vine, chard, and from April to July, the big, flat leaves of chubeza (wild mallow). I hope to show you how tasty and valuable this wild vegetable is, come springtime.
Meantime, I was cruising around the supermarket yesterday, sizing up the frozen section and not finding anything very interesting in it. Then I saw frozen artichoke bottoms. I really love fresh artichokes. Frozen don’t compare. But I broke down and bought those bottoms because I also know how easy it is to stuff them.
This recipe was adapted from Faye Levy’s International Vegetable Cookbook. It looks like a lot of work because of the long list of ingredients, but just assemble everything ahead of time and it will go quickly. I did this in about 15 minutes. Cooking is about 30 minutes.
Stuffed Artichokes, Moroccan Style
2 Tblsp. white rice
14 frozen artichoke bottoms – the whole package: or 6 large, fresh ones, raw
2 Tblsp. olive oil
1/3 cup minced onion
1 cup ground beef
2 large, minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp. sweet paprika
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
4 fresh, chopped tomatoes
2 sliced garlic cloves
1/8 tsp. turmeric
1. Boil the rice, uncovered, in 1 cup of boiling salted water, for 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water and drain. Put in a medium-sized bowl.
2. Heat 1 Tblsp. 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 Tblsp. oil into a heavy pan or casserole and add the artichokes.
6. Add the chopped tomatoes, sliced garlic, turmerc, and a little salt, plus more pepper to taste.
7. Add 1 cup of water or stock or half water, half 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.
There was about a half cup of stuffing left over. I had some fresh, brined vine leaves in the fridge – at this time of the year, supermarkets sell them next to the olives and pickles. So I decided to stuff the vine leaves. When the artichokes were done, I lifted them out of the pan and put them away. To the sauce in the pan, I added a sprig of mint and the juice of 1/2 lemon, plus a Tblsp. or so of good olive oil. I let that simmer and thicken while I stuffed the leaves. They took another 40 minutes to cook. The assembled result you saw above.