This recipe originally came into my files from my sister-in-law and culinary diva, Mary-beth. Or was it from my other sister-in-law, entertaining diva, Priscilla? Well, it was definitely from one of these two talented women.
For a few years, many years ago, while living amongst the Bradley clan and their merry circle of friends in Yakima, Washington, this appetizer appeared at EVERY cocktail party. It was a novelty at the time and a darned good one at that. But as the years passed, and we moved to Seattle, I forgot about it.
Then a couple of weeks ago, as I was perusing the LunaCafe All Recipes page, I realized that I have inadvertently neglected the appetizer category in our first 15 months as a blog. How in heaven’s name did that happen? So I rushed to my culinary file cabinet (relegated to the garage, as all of my more recent work is on computer), pulled out the appetizer folder, and flipped through it to see if there were any choice nuggets to share. Artichoke Appetizer fell right in my lap.
As I was looking at the recipe with fresh eyes and a couple of decades of subsequent culinary education, I realized that it is actually a frittata. Whereas an omelet is all about the eggs and must be cooked quickly and gently, and served hot, moist, and straight away, a frittata is more about the filling ingredients (with the eggs as binder), is cooked more slowly, and served either hot or at room temperature. One nice thing about a frittata, besides its tolerant nature, is that it is sturdy enough to eat out of hand, whether at a picnic or a cocktail party.
So as I was pondering the unphotogenic aspect of the original presentation (baked in a 9-inch pan, cut into squares), I began imagining it in my new shallow, mini muffin pan instead. The portioning would be done before baking and would be round instead of square. Even more important, all of the edges would be browned.
I was just about to head to the OtherWorldly Kitchen to give it a go when I ran into a frittata on the web that was presented in just the way I was imagining, except that the author added the clever touch of positioning a very thin slice of salami on the bottom of the muffin cups to act as a stabilizer. This is supposed to ensure that the frittata doesn’t fall apart in your hand before you get it to your mouth.
As it turns out, it’s a nice touch if your frittata will benefit from the flavor of salami. However, this frittata recipe does NOT benefit from that dominant flavor. The salami overwhelms the more subtle flavor of the artichokes. Also, this retesting of the recipe reminds me that this appetizer is sturdy enough to stand on its own. It doesn’t need a bottom “crust.” So, although the photos show the salami addition, I don’t recommend it for this particular recipe. I will definitely try it again later with other, more strongly flavored, frittata mixtures.
Yakima Valley Artichoke Appetizer
This tasty appetizer is easy to make and nearly foolproof. Be sure to get the best jarred artichoke hearts you can find, preferably packed in olive oil.
You can bake these a little ahead if you need to, as they taste great even at room temperature. (Oh heck, we even loved them the next day after a few seconds in the microwave.) However, if you have the frig space, I recommend that you prepare the recipe only to the point of baking and then pop the pan in the oven as your guests arrive.
two 7½ ounce jars artichoke hearts in oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped (4 ounces; ¾ cup chopped)
1 clove garlic, peeled, pressed or minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 large eggs, beaten lightly
¼ cup fine fresh bread crumbs
¼ teaspoon Green Tabasco
½ teaspoon fine sea salt, and then to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded Cheddar (5 ounces)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ cup shredded Cheddar
- Drain the marinade from one jar into a sauté pan and reserve the marinade from the other jar.
- Add the onion, garlic, and oregano to the sauté pan and sauté until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. If all of the liquid has evaporated, add 2 tablespoons of the reserved marinade. (The remaining marinade may be discarded.)
- Remove the sauté pan from the heat, and let cool slightly.
- Chop the artichokes.
- In a large bowl, combine the artichokes, eggs, bread crumbs, Green Tabasco, salt, and pepper. Add the 2 cups cheddar, parsley, and cooled onion-garlic mixture. Mix thorougly but gently.
- Do ONE of the following: Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with vegetable oil spray and fill it with the artichoke mixture. Or coat an 18-cup, shallow, mini muffin pan with vegetable oil spray and divide the artichoke mixture evenly between the cups.
- Top the artichoke mixture with the remaining ½ cup cheese.
- Bake at 325° for about 30 minutes for the 9-inch square pan or 18 minutes for the muffin pan. The frittata with be puffed and golden. If needed, broil for a minute or two to lightly brown the cheese topping.
- To serve, cut into small squares or simply remove from the muffin cups, and arrange on a platter. Can be served warm or at room temperature.
Makes 18 servings, but no one ever eats only one.