Few countries offer such romance and culture as the nation of Italy.
Their music, dancing, language, and food make for some of America’s most favorite pastimes. Italy also grows nearly 378 tons of artichokes a year, making them one of the top artichoke producers in the world (12).
Health Benefits of Artichokes
Not only is artichoke fun to grow and eat, it’s also a nutritious vegetable that offers a few health benefits.
Artichokes are generally low in calories but pack a real punch in the nutrient department. Nutritionists have found it to be high in (1):
- Vitamin C
Research also finds those who eat artichoke may experience health benefits including:
Lowered blood sugar levels: While more research is needed, artichoke extract seems to slow down the enzyme alpha-glucosidase, which can impact how your body breaks down food into glucose (11). This can be helpful if you’re trying to keep your levels in check.
Balanced blood pressure: If one of your health goals involves lowering your blood pressure, artichoke may help. Not only does it contain potassium, artichoke seems to also have the enzyme eNOS, which can help widen your blood vessels (7). A study of 98 men took artichoke extract for 12 weeks, resulting in lowered diastolic and systolic blood pressure levels (8).
Lowered LDL cholesterol levels: Artichoke contain the antioxidant luteolin, which can keep harmful cholesterol from building up. It can also encourage your body to metabolize cholesterol in a more efficient way (4,5). A study of 700 people took artichoke extract for between 5-13 weeks. Tests showed a total reduction of both overall and LDL cholesterol levels (6).
Improved digestion: If you’re looking for ways to reduce bloating, relieve feelings of constipation or gas, artichokes can help. Their fiber content makes it a great source of prebiotics, which act as food for friendly gut bacteria (9). Studies have also reported those taking artichoke for about 6 weeks experienced improvement in digestion overall (10).
Fun fact: Artichoke has the most antioxidants among all vegetables! (3)
Inspired by Vegetarian Times (2), his Italian Stuffed Artichoke Recipe gives you a taste of classic Europe, embracing the taste and health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
- 8 large globe artichokes, 8 to 10 oz. each
- 4 Tbs. plant-based butter, unsalted
- 2 small onions, finely chopped
- 2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups dried breadcrumbs
- 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or vegan substitute
- 2 tsp. freshly chopped oregano
- 2 Tbs. freshly chopped parsley
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
- Olive oil
- Your choice of lemon juice, lime juice, or vinegar
Serving size: 8
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Oil the bottom of a large casserole dish with olive oil.
- Remove the stems and all the outer leaves from your artichokes. Pull out the cone of tender inner leaves, using a small spoon to scrape away the thistly choke from the center.
- Trim off any noticeable green parts from the bottoms. Afterwards, place trimmed artichokes in a solution of water mixed with a splash of either lemon juice, lime juice, or vinegar.
- Melt plant-based butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add your onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic next and cook for another minute.
- Transfer onions and garlic to a bowl and add breadcrumbs, cheese (or substitute), parsley and oregano. Using a fork, blend mixture until it resembles a loose stuffing. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove artichokes from solution and place on a work surface upside down. Gently press down on the bottom of the artichoke to loosen the leaves. Then, turn the artichokes right side up. Using your fingers, slowly pull the leaves apart to and fill insides with small amounts of stuffing. Distribute the stuffing evenly in each artichoke.
- Arrange the stuffed artichokes along the bottom of the casserole. Sprinkle the chopped tomato over the top, cover and place in preheated oven.
- Bake the artichokes until they can easily be pierced with a skewer from top to bottom – about 45 minutes.
- Once baked, remove from oven, cool slightly and serve. Enjoy!
Additional toppings: As if this recipe wasn’t delicious enough, you can add a bit more pizzazz by topping with chopped bell peppers or pesto sauce!
What goes well with stuffed artichokes? To keep an Italian theme in mind, you could serve with:
- A bed of pasta
- A slice of bread
- Meat such as steak, chicken, or seafood*
- A glass of red wine
*Not advised if you want to keep it a vegan dish.
Whether you’re trying to impress a date or getting together for a family event, there’s nothing like a savory, filling vegetable dish that checks all the boxes.
This Italian stuffed artichoke recipe is a great way to make new memories with loved ones. Not only is it a tasty appetizer or side dish, it’s also a nutritious way to enjoy your vegetables.
This recipe is flexible, so have fun with it! And don’t forget to share with a friend.
References & Disclaimers
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author