Springtime means delicious seasonal vegetables like fennel, fresh fava beans, and artichokes that look more like roses than veggies. This tasty and healthy meal would make the perfect menu for a light lunch for Mother’s Day. This special holiday celebrating motherhood is one full of wonderful memories celebrating my mother, grandmothers, and mother-in-law—all amazing women who I miss so much. But, the truth is that this day is also one that used to be a day that was very challenging for me as I longed to have children (see our story about having a family here). Today, it’s a day I treasure sooo much as I praise God for my little gentlemen He has blessed me with!
Another very special woman in my life is my dear sister. It has been a joy of mine to watch her become a mother and watch her with her children. She recently was able to visit us here in Rome and we made this meal together. When we are in the kitchen together, there is something magical that happens. We appreciate, we create, and we fellowship in such a unique and special way. Often times, our men are helping us while the kids play or want to help out with a job or two. These times are seriously gold to me. I hold them in my heart and cherish them tightly until the next time we get to have little kitchen conversations. Happy Mother’s Day!
This recipe is one that an Italian friend of mine made for me when we first arrived in Italy. I never knew I loved artichokes until I tried them prepared like this!
6 large artichokes (trimmed of the larger leaves, chokes removed)
1 1/2 lb ground sausage
2 crushed garlic cloves
1/3-1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup fine bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated parmiggiano reggiano cheese
salt and pepper
After trimming the artichokes and removing the chokes, place in a cold bath water for about 30 minutes with 1 lemon cut in half and squeezed into the water. When you first submerge the artichokes into the water, gently try to open it up like a flower to make space for your filling.
* the prepping of the artichokes can be rather time-consuming and labor intensive, but it’s worth it.
Place all other ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Remove the artichokes from the water bath and fill each one with enough filling, packing tightly, to fill to the rim. Gently arrange the artichokes into a small saucepan so that each one is standing upright and tight against the others and the sides of the pan. Slowly fill the pan with water so that it comes up to about 3/4 the height of the artichokes. Turn the stove on medium to medium-high heat and place a lid on the pan. Occasionally check on them to see if they are tender. After about 30 minutes, you should be able to gently push a fork through the artichoke.
These are perfect for the kids! The first time I made these, I did so just because I hate having any waste. The kids don’t care for artichokes so much, but they will eat these up! They also store well in the fridge for a quick breakfast or snack.
Take any remaining filling and place in cupcake wrappers in a cupcake pan and bake at 350° F for about 30 minutes or until browned on top.
2-3 bulbs of fennel
1/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper
1/4 cup grated parmiggiano reggiano cheese
Trim each fennel bulb and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Pour 2 tbsp olive oil in a hot pan and add the fennel slices. Sauté for approximately 5-7 minutes. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan. When the wine has evaporated by half, add enough water to nearly cover the fennel and place a lid on top of the pan. Cook on medium heat for around 30 minutes, occasionally stirring and flipping the fennel with tongs, until the fennel is browned and very soft. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Right before serving, sprinkle the cheese on top and the heat of the fennel will melt the cheese.