Pan-fried parmesan-stuffed artichoke fritters with basil aioli

To be honest, there’s no better way to eat artichokes than leaf by leaf in the classic way, with a vinaigrette or mayonnaise dip and the promise of the heart coming closer as you nibble. Somehow, people don’t seem to feel like spending half the evening doing that anymore. This recipe came out of an artichoke glut. We got a few boxes of organic artichokes at ‘a good price’ and I realised we’d never sell them fast enough served one at a time in the traditional way. So we stuffed them with parmesan, paired them with a basil dip, and they disappeared in no time. How many artichokes you prepare depends on their size, how many you’ve got and how much work you’re prepared to do. Two each is fine, three very extravagant, and you wouldn’t be ashamed of serving one large one per person with some leaves and the aioli.

Ingredients

  • 8-12 artichokes
  • lemon juice
  • 50 g parmesan, grated
  • 150 g breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 mls milk
  • 50 g flour
  • some mixed salad leaves, equivalent to one small head of lettuce

For the Basil Aioli

  • 1 egg
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 250 mls basil oil
  • salt and black pepper
  • lemon juice (optional)

Method

MAKE THE AIOLI FIRST. (This is a simple version. there is a roasted garlic-rosemary aioli recipe with detailed instructions.) Beat the egg and garlic in a food processor for a minute or so, until the egg is frothy and the garlic crushed. With the motor running, slowly pour in the basil oil until you have a thick emulsion. Season with salt and pepper, and add a little lemon juice if you like.

Trim the leaves from the artichokes and remove the hairy choke, rubbing lemon juice to the artichoke heart as it becomes exposed, to prevent discolouring. Boil the artichokes for 10-20 minutes until they are just tender.

To make the filling for the artichokes, put the parmesan and 50g of the breadcrumbs into a food processor and blend them for a minute or so, then add one egg and blend again to get a thick paste. Use this paste to fill the cavities in the artichokes.

Coat the filled artichokes in the remaining breadcrumbs. To do this, first whisk the second egg and the milk together. Dip the artichokes in flour, dunk them in the egg and milk, then toss them in the breadcrumbs until fully coated.

Heat about a quarter inch of oil in a frying pan to a moderate heat, and fry the artichokes, turning them once to brown both sides. Keep them warm in an oven while you fry a second batch if necessary.

Serve two or three artichokes per person, with some salad leaves and a little bowl of the aioli on the side for dipping.