Friday, October 11, 2013

“Stuffed Artichokes” For “Columbus Day” & “Italian-American Heritage Month”

Every year the United States President signs an executive order declaring October as “Italian-American Heritage Month.” This is a perfect time to enjoy the festivities surrounding "Columbus Day", and to recognize the many achievements, contributions, culture, history, and food, of the Americans with Italian descent. There were over 5.4 million Italians that immigrated to the United States between 1820 and 1992. Today there are over 26 million Italian Americans living in the United States. This makes them the fifth largest ethnic group. The New World was named “America” for Amerigo Vespucci (1451-1512), the Florentine explorer and geographer who was a friend to Columbus. 

The first recorded celebration of Columbus Day in the United States took place in New York City on October 12, 1792 when a group known as the Columbian Order held a parade to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the landing of Columbus. In 1866, following the start of Italian immigration to the U.S., another parade was held in New York City, this time by the Italians celebrating their link with American history. In 1937 President Franklin Roosevelt proclaims October 12th as Columbus Day. Then in 1968 President Lyndon B. Johnson declares Columbus Day a federal public holiday, to be celebrated on the second Monday in October, rather than on October 12th. The new "Uniform Monday Holiday Act" goes into effect in 1971.

On August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus, a sailor from Genoa, Italy and the 88 members of his crew, plus their families attended Mass in the Church of St. George the Martyr. They prayed for a safe voyage. Leaving the church they boarded their three ships the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria which was Columbus’ flagship and began their voyage to the East Indies. Columbus Day is also celebrated in Spain, the country which sent Columbus on his famous voyage and whose Queen, Isabella of Castile provided the financing (money came from the Queen’s personal funds not the national treasury) for his expedition. In Spain the holiday is known as Hispanic Day, and it is celebrated with a huge parade in Madrid. In New York City, they celebrate with an annual parade which is also broadcasted internationally to Italy. While it is a nationally recognized holiday, not everyone is quick to participate in the festivities. Many people are insisting that it is not fair to celebrate a “discovery” that already had inhabitants, the Native Americans and therefore some states celebrate the holiday by a different name.

The arrival of Europeans in the Americas was without a doubt one of the most important events in modern history, including food history. Many foods that were native to the Americas were brought to Europe and even more European products were brought back to America. Many Americans, especially Italian-Americans, celebrate Columbus Day with food. In honor of the meal that Christopher Columbus must have eaten on the sail to the Americas, people cook a typical seaman’s dinner. That meal consisted of fish, potatoes, beef, cheese, and a variety of other foods such as rice, dried fruits, and legumes. 

Even though it must have been a good meal for them on the sea, it just doesn’t sound Italian enough for me. Where was the lasagna, meatballs, pasta, and we can’t forget Italian cookies, and desserts? Well, I am not at sea, but I do have a wonderful recipe of the week for you and it is called “Stuffed Italian Artichokes.” I know, you must be saying, I don’t like them, you are wrong! Till you have tried my mom’s recipe made with spices, cheese, and bread crumbs all tucked together inside the leaves of this wonderful little green vegetable, and then baked with a crispy top, you really haven’t tasted anything like this before! Now, that’s Italian! So in honor of my Italian-American Heritage and Columbus Day, have fun, celebrate, and eat something Italian!  
“Buon Appetito!”  

"Stuffed Italian Artichokes"

6 medium artichokes
1 1/4 cups of bread crumbs (plain)
1/2 cup of grated Pecorino-Romano cheese 
1/2 cup of fresh chopped parsley
2 teaspoons of minced garlic (fresh or jar)
3/4 Tsp of salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup of olive oil or vegetable oil

Cut off the stem and 1/4 off the top of an artichoke. Then remove some of the outer leaves at the bottom. Use scissors to clip off top of side leaves. (That removes the sticky point on each leaf) Then wash in a deep bowl. Fill a large pot with water and boil. Place the artichokes in the pot carefully and lower heat to medium for about 7 minutes. Fork test bottom of an artichoke for tenderness. If a fork goes in and out easily, they are done. Next drain and run cold water on artichokes let them sit and cool off. While they are cooling down, mix the bread crumbs, parsley, minced garlic, grated cheese, and a sprinkle of salt with pepper. Mix in a little oil with hands. When it feels like a sandy consistency then you are ready to fill. Gently spread the leaves a little apart and sprinkle some of the bread crumb mixture between each of the leaves. Place the now stuffed artichokes in a glass Pyrex baking dish. (7x11x1.5) Drizzle a small amount of oil on top of each artichoke. Put a small amount of water in the bottom of a pan about 1/4 inch deep. Bake for about 25-30 minutes at 350° F. The top should be a little browned and crispy, when they are ready to eat.    

Till Next Time…….

Copyright © 2013 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved


  1. Hi Dottie , Love stuffed artichokes and this recipe is a winner , just yummy thanks for sharing :)

  2. Thank you Nee, glad that you enjoyed this post and the recipe. These little round veggies are delicious.

    Blessing, Dottie :)

  3. Good morning Dottie , Thanks for welcoming me back , girl I missed everyone .
    Are you going to Louise Pasta Party , I do so hope to see you there , I am working on my post , I want to get it up by Tuesday , :).Have a great weekend . "

  4. Good afternoon, Nee...So glad that all is well with you now, and you are back on line. Yes, I hope to attend Louise's Pasta Party. I have entered a delicious recipe for her party. What a fun idea! Everyone I have meet through the blogs are so very nice and helpful. Thanks for being my blogger friend and look forward to more goodies from you and all the other bloggers. It is so much fun to share with everyone. You also have a great weekend! Blessings, Dottie :)

  5. Hi Dottie!

    Whew! I finally made it here. Just in time for the very best Stuffed Artichokes EVER! I know from experience because this is exactly the same way my sister Maria makes her artichokes.

    Here's a tidbit for you:) Up until about 15 years ago, I didn't know the "American" pronunciation of the word artichoke. Almost my entire adult life, I always said it in Italian, lol...

    A GREAT Columbus Day post, Dottie. Thank you so much for sharing...

  6. Hi Louise,
    Thanks, these are the best! My niece Lauren is away at college, and she loves my mom's Stuffed Artichokes. She always asks her to make them when she comes home from school. We bake ours. I have seen some recipes that are made on top of the stove, steaming, but you don't get that crunch of the breadcrumbs when they are baked.
    My mom calls them by the Italian name as well, but we all know what she means. No matter whichever way you call them they are awesome and fun to eat as well.
    Enjoy, Blessings, Dottie :)

  7. Dear Dottie, One of my most favorite delights to eat. I just love them. Blessings dear. Catherine xo

  8. Dear Catherine, I know what you mean, I know so many people that love them, and then there are others that will not even touch them. But that is ok, as my mom would say, "more for us!" Thanks, Blessings, Dottie :)

  9. Thank you for sharing this. Being Italian I particularly enjoyed reading it! And your stuffed artichokes are to die for!!

  10. Dear Alida, Welcome! So glad that you enjoyed this post and the recipe. I think all Italians know what these artichokes taste like as you said to die for. In my family we love them so much that after they are cooked, we save ours till the end of the meal. Then as we eat or scrap the leaves with all the stuffing mix, we have a race to see who can get to the center first. To me that is the heart of the artichokes, and it is so sweet. If you drink some water after you eat them, the water tastes sweet. Thanks, and Blessings, Dottie :)

  11. Hi Dottie,

    I hope you're having a good week. Every time I see those artichokes, I want to jump through my screen, lol...

    If you get a chance, could you email me. I can't seem to find your email address. I just want to ask you a question about the Pasta Party. Thanks Dottie, Louise

  12. It's not a holiday at my home without artichokes. Our Pisano Family recipe is just like yours. It's a wonderful recipe! Love your blog!

  13. Hi Florence,

    Welcome! Thanks for reading and enjoying my blog post. Yes, you are correct we used to have them only at holidays, but everyone loved them so much that we decided to make them whenever the family asked for them. I am glad that your recipe is like mine, it is to me the only way to make them. Enjoy and come back anytime! Dottie :)