Antipasti, or little cold and hot appetizers used to be served before the main course with the intention to whet an appetite. Modern eating habits have changed. A variety of small plates often replaces a complete meal. This warm artichoke and seafood salad with melted cheese is an example of how versatile this traditional combination of ingredients is. Slight preparation modifications and you can serve it as a warm salad or appetizer, or with pasta, or on pizza. No herbs, spices, or other strongly aromatic ingredients overpower the delicate flavors of artichokes and seafood. Moderate seasoning and good extra virgin olive oil are all we need to make this dish shine. This recipe is inspired by many Italian recipes with artichokes and seafood available online.
Fill a bowl with 1 quart of cold water combined with lemon juice. Clean the artichokes.
Peel the stalks and slice artichokes in half. Place in lemony water to soak for 10-15 minutes. Acidic water protects artichokes from oxidation (browning).
In a skillet, heat olive oil over medioum heat and fry smashed garlic cloves until golden. Discard garlic.
Pat dry artichokes and saute them over medium heat in the garlicy olive oil until lightly caramelized. Season with salt and black pepper. Reserve olive oil. You will use it for par-cooking the seafood.
Transfer atichokes to a sauce pan, add 1/4 cup white wine combined with 1/4 cup water. Bring it to simmer over meduim heat, reduce heat to low, cover with a lid and slowly cook for 20-25 minutes until artichokes are tender.
Meanwhile, prepare your seafood medley — baby octopuses and squid tubes, prawns and sea scallops, etc. Clean, shell, slice them — whatever prep each kind of seafood needs. Par-cook them over medium heat in the same skillet with olive oil you used for sauteing the artichokes. Transfer to a plate.
Preheat broil with a shelf 4" below the heating elements. Grease ramekins with some olive oil. Place artichokes halves on the bottom. Layer the seafood and fresh mozzarella on top.
Broil for 2 minutes until cheese melted, with a few spots of caramelization. Seafood juices and cheese whey make a creamy sauce on the bottom of each ramekin — eat it dipping crusty white bread, it's delicious!