Stuffed vegetables are a mainstay of Middle-Eastern cooking, and there are many Sephardic recipes for various stuffed vegetables. These stuffed artichokes are from a recipe given me from my cousin Aimee, who was raised in Morocco. It's perfect for Passover (or those avoiding gluten) since it doesn't need breadcrumbs or grains, and uses a Spring vegetable. The lamb, herbs, lemon and pistachios make these "meatballs" especially tasty. I buy whole frozen artichoke hearts from my local Armenian store, and any good Middle-Eastern grocery should have them in the freezer section. This year I also stuffed some of the small sweet peppers with the mixture, which was a big hit. Precooked small zucchini or baby eggplants could be used in Summer. If you don't want to use the mixture to stuff vegetables, you could just form meatballs and bake them, then serve in a sauce of tomato and meat broth over cous-cous.
Here's the recipe.
Artichoke Hearts Stuffed with Lamb
Makes about 20 artichoke hearts
Mix in a food processor until coarsely chopped:
1 spanish onion,
1 cooked and peeled medium potato
1 cup of fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh mint
1/4 cup cilantro
Put the mixture from the processor into a large bowl, and add:
2 lbs ground lamb
2 T motzah meal or bread crumbs
1 tsp Chinese Five Spice
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
3 T olive oil
1/4 cup of water
1/2 cup of roasted and ground pistachios
Mix this well.
Refrigerate the mixture for about 15 mins. Slightly defrost 2-3 bags frozen artichoke hearts. In a baking dish/pan, arrange 1 very thinly sliced (about 1/8"), thick skinned lemon, covering most of the pan.
Place artichokes over the lemons.
Make meatballs large enough to fit snuggly into the artichokes, and place one in each artichoke.
Mix 1 pinch of toasted, crushed saffron or 1 package of Goya Sazon with Azafron with
1 tsp pepper,
1/4 tsp salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
4T olive oil
and 1/3 cup of water
Gently pour this mixture over the artichokes.
Cover with a lid or foil.
Bake in 350 - 400 degree oven for 40-50 minutes. Uncover for another 10 minutes of cooking to slightly brown.
These reheat well, and I usually make them a few hours or the day before serving. Serve garnished with the cooked lemon and fresh mint leaves.