Provencal Artichokes Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Tapenade
Provencal Recipe for Rosé season
When the first artichokes rose from my semi-dormant thistle bed, like Lazarus from the dead, I found excuse enough to search for any leftover rose bottles that may have escaped last summer’s debauchery to celebrate with. I walk out to my garden with nothing more than a simple lunch and a bottle of rosé on my mind. I blankly stared at my artichokes as if somehow they might reveal how they’d like to be prepared. Would it be slow cooked in a barigoule or perhaps just simply steamed with a hollandaise? I stood in my garden for a long time, surrounded by an audience of fava beans, peas, lettuce, and mint who decided to join the debate. My basil, feeling left out and secluded, angrily voiced their opinion.
One glass of rosé quickly became two. And with that came the near constant pining to be in Provence, perhaps living my life quietly in Daudet’s windmill, penning a manuscript of a simple, authentic life. The sentiment grew more visceral as the weather continued to warm. Dishes like tapenade, anchoïade (anchovy dip) and loup de mer (Mediterranean sea bass) grilled over dried fennel stems replaced the now tired repertoire of hearty winter dishes.
Wisps of smoke rose from the charcoal grill, perfuming the air with the heavenly scent of summer. A spring lamb, not yet eight weeks old, reclined joyously in a golden bath of olive oil and herbs. The favas, peas, lettuce, and mint played together in a pool of butter. Mounds of fresh basil, young garlic, and grated parmesan transformed themselves into an emerald green pistou. Lunch was figuring itself out.
A second glass easily became three. I trimmed off the gruff exterior armor of my artichokes, revealing their tender purplish leaves who hid shyly in the shadows of my kitchen. The empty cavities filled with fresh, tangy goat cheese and a spoonful of just made black olive tapenade. A thin sheaf of pancetta provided the formal dress for the artichokes to wear to the table. Together, the lamb and artichokes danced on the hot grill, filling my nostrils with the scents only a lonely shepherd could smell while grilling his dinner over the dried garrigue under a starry sky.
Oh, to be in Provence once again.
Artichokes Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Tapenade
Prepping the Artichokes:
- 4 Young Artichokes just picked from your garden or market fresh
- 2 tbsp olive oil preferably from the Vallée des Baux
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
- ¼ cup Rosé
- 2 cup Water
Finishing the Artichokes:
- 4 tbsp fresh goat cheese
- 4 tbsp Tapenade see note
- 4 slices Pancetta or Bacon
Prepping the Artichokes:
- Cut four artichokes from your garden, leaving one inch on the stem.
- Using a sharp paring knife, trim the outer tough leaves off.
- Nip the top inch and peel the stem.
- Cut in half and delicately scrape the choke out.
- Heat olive oil in a pan large enough to easily accommodate all the artichokes.
- Lay the artichokes cut side down and sauté until golden brown.
- Add the herbs, rosé, water and a pinch of sea salt.
- Simmer for twenty minutes, or until tender.
- Cool on counter.
Finishing the Artichokes
- Fill the empty cavity with a spoonful of fresh goat cheese and tapenade.
- Wrap each artichoke in pancetta and toothpick together so they stay married.
- Light your charcoal fire. If you have rosemary and thyme growing in your yard cut a few branches of each. Throw the herb branches into the fire as your artichokes are cooking.
- Grill artichokes over a low fire to warmed through, about ten minutes.
- Enjoy with a simple grilled lamb chop and a glass of Provence rosé.