baby artichoke hearts au gratin

Kosher salt, to taste
3 pounds baby artichokes
Juice from 1/2 lemon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 loaf frozen French baguette
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, Asiago, and Romano cheeses (or packaged as a 3-cheese blend)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Fill a large pot with cold water and add a good pinch of salt. Bring to a boil.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare artichokes. Fill a large bowl with cold water and add lemon juice. Set aside.
  4. Using a sharp knife, remove stem of each artichoke, and trim off top 1 inch of leaves. Using your hands, carefully remove leaves from each until you reach inner leaves nearest choke. Cut artichoke in half lengthwise, or quarters depending on size. Rinse with cool water. Place each in lemon water to keep from turning brown until all of artichokes are ready.
  5. Place artichokes in boiling water. Reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, until fork-tender. Drain and set aside. Once cooled, remove leaves, and with a spoon, any fuzzy chokes. Rinse again, if necessary.
  6. In a small saucepan, melt butter.
  7. Place bread in oven for about 2 minutes. Remove and cut into 1-inch cubes. In batches, add to bowl of a food processor and chop until coarse crumbles form. Add basil, garlic, and mustard. Process until combined. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons butter and cheeses and stir.
  8. Coat an 8-inch baking dish with olive oil. Add baby artichoke hearts and toss with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Spread into an even layer and top with breadcrumbs.
  9. Bake, uncovered, for about 25 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are lightly browned.

Serves 4.

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