These baked artichokes with hazelnut olive pesto not only look like a piece of art, but they make for an excellent appetizer for when you have guests and want to make something easy and tasty, but fancy looking. Also, they are lectin-free, dairy-free and healthy so they suit everyone.
Artichokes may seem intimidating – they were for me before I tried to cook them first – but it’s actually not difficult at all. It’s more difficult to eat them if you ask me, but it’s a fun and interesting meal experience.
Firstly, since you would eat part of the leaves, I would pick an organic artichoke and one that is in good shape. Then, you have to know what’s inside a sectioned artichoke, beside the heart that we all know from eating canned artichokes. There is something fluffy in the middle, a fuzzy, fibrous center, or a choke (where the name is coming from) that has to be removed.
I wanted them sectioned in half, so I first steamed the artichoke, whole, then sectioned it and then removed the choke from each half, with a paring knife and the help of a spoon. I filled them with the pesto and then baked them for 30 or so – you don’t want the nuts to burn. The artichoke is already cooked from the steaming, so the baking is just for extra texture and to infuse all the flavors. Some people cut the tips of the leaves, but I didn’t, you don’t eat them anyway and they help to hold the leaf while scraping the edible part with your teeth. So your choice. I don’t think is wrong either way.
This is a great appetizer or entertainment dish as it can be easily shared. To eat them, you just pull out the leaves one by one, with your hands, eat the pesto and scrap the flesh on each leave with your teeth. Once you reach the core (the best part), you can cut and share.