Italian Artichoke Casserole | Sformato di Carciofi

Italian Artichoke Casserole is a vegetarian recipe that is delicious especially if you use fresh artichokes in season with an intense and unique flavor.

However, if you do not have fresh artichokes, you can naturally use frozen ones as well. 

Italian artichoke casserole recipe has no particular difficulty. The important thing is to clean the artichokes well and prepare a creamy velvety béchamel sauce.

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You can enjoy this artichoke casserole with parmigiano cheese and béchamel as an appetizer, as a vegetarian main dish or even as a side dish.

Artichokes are a great health ally. They have detoxifying and antioxidant properties and are an important source of fiber. So when their season comes, you should eat plenty of them.

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Italian artichoke casserole, baked and made delicious with a crispy crust on the surface, is a perfect vegetarian dish for cooking this vegetable in a different way than usual.

Artichoke casserole is also a very practical dish. It can even be prepared a few hours in advance then eaten at the appropriate time.

Let’s now see how to make Italian artichoke casserole with parmigiano and béchamel. You’ll definitely have a great success with your guests!

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Italian Artichoke Casserole

  • Prep Time: 30 Min+ about 15 Min to make Bèchamel sauce
  • Cook Time: 45 Min
  • Servings: 6

Ingredients

For Bechamel Sauce

  • 500 ml (2 cups) of milk
  • 50 g (1,7 ounce or ¼ cup) of unsalted butter
  • 50 g (1,7 ounce or 4 tablespoons) of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of fine salt
  • freshly grated nutmeg

For Artichoke Casserole


Directions

First prepare the béchamel sauce

bechamel recipe step 1

Step 1) – In a pan, prepare the roux by melting the butter and adding the flour. Stir with a hand whisk to remove any lumps.

bechamel recipe step 2

Step 2) – Pour the milk into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Then turn off the heat and pour the milk into the roux, stirring very well with a hand whisk.

bechamel recipe step 3

Step 3) – Place back on the heat. Season lightly with salt and season with a little nutmeg. Cook, continuing to stir, until the béchamel has reached the desired consistency.

PLEASE NOTE: For more information and insights see our recipe: how to make Béchamel sauce (Besciamella)

How to Clean Artichokes

how to clean artichokes step 1

Step 1) – TIP: When cleaning artichokes, they release a liquid that stains your hands. Therefore, we recommend using disposable gloves or running lemon juice over your hands to protect them.

Cut off the stems at the base of the leaves. Peel the stems and set them aside. Then remove the outermost leaves, which are the hardest. Keep only the heart of the artichoke, that is, the innermost part.

how to clean artichokes step 2 b

Step 2) – Cut off the tips of the artichokes, whether they are artichokes with thorns or without. Then cut the artichokes in half. Finally remove the inner part.

Leave the artichokes for about half an hour in a bowl with cold water and the juice of 1 lemon. This way the artichokes don’t turn dark.

How to Make Italian Artichoke Casserole

how to make Italian artichoke casserole step 1

Step 1) – Cook the artichokes in boiling water for 15 minutes. Then drain very well and let them cool.

PLEASE NOTE: We recommend not throwing away the artichoke cooking water (read the paragraph below “How to Use Artichoke Cooking Water”).

how to make Italian artichoke casserole step 2

Step 2) – Transfer the boiled artichokes to a blender. Add the eggs and grated Parmigiano cheese. Blend until the mixture is as smooth as possible.

how to make Italian artichoke casserole step 3

Step 3) – Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the béchamel sauce. Stir, adjusting for salt and pepper.

how to make Italian artichoke casserole step 4

Step 4) – Pour the mixture into a baking pan greased with a drizzle of oil and sprinkled with breadcrumbs.

Sprinkle the surface also with a round of oil, a little grated Parmigiano cheese and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

how to make Italian artichoke casserole step 5

Step 5) – Place the artichoke casserole in an oven preheated to 180°C (350°F) and bake for about 45 minutes.

The surface should form a crispy, golden crust.

Remove the artichoke casserole from the oven and let it rest about 5 minutes before serving.

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How to Store Italian Artichoke Casserole

You can store Italian artichoke casserole in the refrigerator for two to three days in an airtight food container. Then reheat in the oven or microwave.

You can freeze the artichoke casserole and let it thaw at room temperature.

Italian Artichoke Casserole: Some Variants

Artichoke casserole lends itself to many variations.

You can add for example diced cured meats, so to enrich the artichoke casserole and make it a one-pot dish.

Cured meats that go best with artichokes are ham, flavorful but delicate, and speck, with its smoky flavor for an especially tasty touch.

You can also enrich the flan by adding thinly sliced cheeses to the center that make it stringy. The best cheeses for this use are scamorza or provolone, even smoked if you like.

Mozzarella is very suitable because of its flavor, but there is a risk that it will release too much water inside the artichoke flan. It’s therefore better to choose a firm, compact mozzarella and drain any whey very well.

You can also serve this dish in individual portions. This is a more elegant way to serve artichoke casserole, above all if you have guests for dinner or have a party with many friends.

You can also decorate the small portions with artichoke wedges and a sprinkling of Parmigiano cheese.

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How to Choose the Better Artichokes

There are indeed many varieties of artichokes. They are generally loosely classified into spiny and non-spiny, green and purple, winter and spring artichokes.

For this recipe we used a type of spiny artichoke.

The “Spinoso di Sardegna” (also cultivated in Liguria) is a very popular variety in Italy, for its unmistakable and intense flavor.

The “Spinoso di Sardegna” and the “Carciofo Romanesco” (Mammola) are the most common varieties in Italy. Both are good for this recipe.

As for the most known varieties of artichokes abroad, we can say that for this recipe are perfect the Green Globe artichoke and the California Imperial Star artichoke, as well as the more renowned Lyon artichoke.

In addition to choosing large sized artichokes, you should also make sure they are fresh and in season.

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First, artichokes should feel heavy and full when you hold them. If they’re light, it’s a sign that they’re a little old, probably fibrous, so hard to eat and with little flavor.

Also, when you’re holding a fresh artichoke, the leaves should “squeak” when you squeeze them.

Another thing to check is the opening of the leaves. If an artichoke already has enlarged and unopened leaves, it’s a sign that it’s old.

The main season for artichokes is winter but there is a shorter second season in the spring.

Buy artichokes when they are in season and you will have a better chance of choosing the best ones.

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How to Use Artichoke Cooking Water

To make Italian artichoke casserole, as we have seen, you must boil the artichokes. We recommend to not throw away the artichoke cooking water. It’s in fact precious!

Artichoke, as is well known, is rich in beneficial properties. It’s a powerful antioxidant, is very rich in minerals and contains various essential vitamins, aids digestion and has excellent diuretic and depurative qualities.

But, as is often the case, many proprieties are lost when the vegetable is cooked.  don’t worry, the remedy is simple: just make good use of its cooking water.

First of all, artichoke cooking water can be used as a broth-base for other preparations such as Minestrone, soups or risottos.

It’s also an excellent drink, not only from the point of view of health, but also from the point of view of taste.

For an even more purifying effect, artichoke water can be drunk, “plain,” away from meals.

You can also enrich artichoke water with other detox ingredients, for example, fennel seeds, ginger, lemon or mint…You will get delicious and very healthy drinks.

Artichoke water will keep for up to 4-5 days in the refrigerator.

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