Star Ingredient: Quercus Umbriae Giudia Artichokes
If cooks were asked to name the vegetables they find most intimidating and time-consuming to prepare, artichokes would surely top the list. Marinated artichoke hearts from Umbria in central Italy solve the problem: No trimming, cooking or choke removal is required.
Plus: More Vegetable Recipes and Tips
One 1-pound loaf sourdough bread, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 large garlic clove, halved
One 1 1/4-pound jar marinated artichokes, drained and thinly sliced, oil
Preheat the oven to 425°. Toast the bread directly on the oven racks until dry and lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Rub 1 side of the toast with the cut sides of the garlic clove. Lower the oven temperature to 375°.
Brush the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the reserved artichoke oil and arrange one-third of the toast in a single layer. Top with half of the artichokes. Season lightly with salt and pepper and top with one-third of the cheese. Repeat with another layer of toast, artichokes and cheese and season with salt and pepper. Top with the remaining toast and cheese.
In a bowl, mix the milk with the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the custard over the bread; cover with plastic wrap. Lay a few cans on the plastic to keep the bread submerged. Let soak until most of the custard is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove the plastic.
Place a sheet of oiled parchment paper on top of the pudding and cover with foil. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and parchment; bake for 15 minutes longer, or until the top is golden. Let the pudding cool for 15 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.
The pudding can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before proceeding.
Look for a full-flavored Chardonnay from Italy or France with only a little oak.
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