ARTICHOKES STUFFED WITH COUSCOUS
1-1/3 cups instant couscous
1-1/3 cups boiling water
1/4 cup fruity olive oil, divided
8 large artichokes
2 shallots, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1/4 teaspoon, ground hot chili powder (ancho, chipolte, cayenne)
1/2 cup frozen petite peas
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided
Pour the boiling water over the couscous in a mixing bowl and let it stand until all the moisture is absorbed and the pasta is tender (5-10 minutes. Drizzle on 1 tablespoon of olive oil and fluff with a fork. Reserve.
Trim the bottoms from the artichokes so they will sit upright. Tear off small, tough leaves at the base, trim thorns off larger leaves. With a sharp, serrated knife, cut the top 1/3 off the artichokes. Arrange them in a steamer tray and cook over simmering water until they can be pierced easily, about 30 minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, remove the tough center leaves until you reach the choke. Gently open the leaves wide enough to scrape out this part with a spoon.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy skillet. Saute the shallot and garlic slowly for 3-4 minutes, until they soften. Add the tomato pieces and cook until the mixture is dry. Season with chili and stir. Off the heat, add the peas, lemon juice, thyme, salt the 3 tablespoons Parmesan. Fold this mixture into the couscous.
Spoon the couscous into the hollowed-out artichokes and in between leaves. Place artichokes in a lightly oiled oven casserole just large enough to hold them. Drizzle on the remaining olive oil and sprinkle on remaining tablespoon cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until they are heated through and crusty on top. Serve hot or warm.
Yield: 8 servings