Tinos Artichoke Bread Pudding


This Greek island recipe, from the Cyclades, specifically Tinos, attests to the creative ways in which Greek cooking evolved, using both local and everyday ingredients to create delicious, regional specialties. This Greek recipe from the island of Tinos calls for artichokes, one of the island’s most prized local cultivations. I’ve adapted it for American cooks and call for frozen artichokes and pita rounds as the bread.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 16 large fresh or thawed frozen artichoke hearts
  • 3 tablespoons butter plus extra for buttering the pan
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin Greek olive oil
  • 2 large red onions very finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 - 4 rounds of pita bread torn into 1- to 2-inch pieces and lightly toasted under the broiler, to crisp (not to burn)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups (150 g) grated graviera or other mild, yellow sheep's-milk cheese
  • 3 large eggs whisked with 2 ½ cups of milk

Instructions

  1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the artichoke hearts and blanch for 3 to 4 minutes, until soft. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside . When cool enough to handle, coarsely chop the artichokes.
  2. In a heavy medium skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until wilted and lightly colored, about 12 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook all together, stirring, for about 1 minute.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Butter a 9x13 inch (23x32 cm) baking dish.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, toss together the bread, artichokes, onions, garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, lemon zest and ⅔ of the cheese. Whisk the eggs and milk together and pour over the mixture, tossing to dampen everywhere. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  5. Bake until set and golden, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool
  6. slightly, and serve.

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