Finger Food Friday: Artichoke Balls

artichoke balls

Artichoke Balls

Are there certain foods you love but haven’t had in years?  It could be a favorite childhood dish or maybe one of the first things you learned to cook on your own.  If your answer to that question is yes, have you ever stopped to ask yourself why?  I do that Q&A thing throughout my daily ritual of “recipe diving” (the fine art of digging through years and years of recipes for inspiration and sustenance) and meal planning.  That question is also one of the reasons I started this blog–to protect “endangered” foods. You know, the ones on the verge of being forgotten because no one cooks them anymore?  Like the Artichoke Balls I’m preparing today.  From the 1970s to the 1990s, just about every local community and church cookbook referenced them and every family social revolved around them.  Then, without warning, poof.  They were gone.  No one made them anymore, no one talked about them and no one seemed to care why.  This once popular finger food was replaced by the likes of Buffalo wings and cheese dip. Fortunately, my sister never forgot about this special party food. She made a big batch for my surprise 40th birthday party. I credit her with reintroducing the recipe to our family and reminding me of how much I love them!

Artichoke Balls are savory, one-bite morsels made with pantry staples and a couple of cans of artichoke hearts. They’re not the most photogenic, thanks to the white blanket of Parmesan cheese (or maybe it’s the amateur photography), but they’re mighty tasty.  If you research the recipe, you’ll generally find a baked version and a no-cook version. Our family has always made the no-cook version, although I don’t recall us ever binding them with raw egg (as called for in many recipes). I can’t stomach the thought of using raw egg in a no-cook recipe, especially when I know the food is going to sit at room temp for some period of time. I’ve learned that if you chill the artichoke mixture first, you’ll have no problem forming the ingredients into balls. Also, I probably need to throw out a disclaimer that I go heavy on the garlic. Feel free to back off of some of it if you think it’s too much.

An old school recipe deserves to be enjoyed with an old school cocktail.  So on this Finger Food Friday I’ll be sipping a Bombay Sapphire Martini (extra dry)–it should be really, really good since I haven’t had one in a while.  Now if I were at some swanky bar, I’d order my martini straight up because they’d chill it to perfection with little slivers of ice floating on the top.  Since I’m at home, however, I’m making it on the rocks with extra garnish. That will carry me well into the night.  If my cocktail’s too stiff for your taste, there’s always Miller Lite. Either way, you’ll be in good company!

I hope today’s post inspires you to seek out and recreate a favorite dish from your past. It’s a fun way to reminisce and share yourself with others!

Until next week …

Artichoke Balls Recipe

Print Recipe

Print Recipe

2 14-ounce cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Italian bread crumbs
1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

artichoke balls

Place artichokes in a large bowl; mash with a potato masher.  Add garlic, bread crumbs, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste; stir to combine. Cover and place mixture in the refrigerator for at least one hour (the mixture is much easier to form into balls when chilled). Pour reserved 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese in a shallow dish. Form artichoke mixture into balls about 1-inch in diameter; roll in Parmesan cheese. Transfer to a serving platter. Serve cold.  Makes approximately 3 dozen artichoke balls.

Bombay Sapphire Martini Recipe

1 teaspoon Martini & Rossi Extra Dry Vermouth
2 jiggers Bombay Sapphire Gin
1 green olive or pepperocini for garnish

Pour vermouth into a chilled martini glass; swirl to coat the inside of the glass.  Pour out excess vermouth.  Fill glass with ice.  Add gin; stir.  Garnish with a green olive or pepperocini.  Makes 1 cocktail.


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12 Responses
  1. Kim Lawrence says:

    Hi! Found your Artichoke Balls Recipe through Pinterest…and I was so thrilled!!! I’m a 44 year-old transplant from N.O. (born and raised) to Upstate NY and haven’t had these for almost 2 1/2 years, now…oh how I’ve missed them! Thank you so much for featuring the recipe…I’m going to make a batch tonight!!! Boy oh boy are my husband and kids are going to LOVE me!!!! Thanx, again!!! And, by the way, LOVE the site…making me a bit homesick and happy, all at the same time ;0)

    • Genet says:

      Hey Kim, thanks so much for your kind words. Love to connect with other transplants! Please let me know if there are other NOLA recipes you’re looking for but can’t find. I have so many great family recipes yet to post!! Please keep in touch!

  2. robin newman says:

    This was always a must at our family holidays! The only thing missing that my family would had is one beated egg. ohhh…& the artichoke balls were put into the oven for about 15 min or until warm. So much better when they come out the oven….warm, garlicky, & cheesy!

  3. Barry Begault says:

    I have been making this recipe for years and people really love these. My step daughter will eat herself sick on these! I use more garlic (I use more garlic with everything!) and these Cajun Breath Mints are a hit at any party when you have to bring a dish!


    • Genet says:

      I’ve been known to over-garlic these too! Love, love, love garlic … and Artichoke Balls!!

      • Barry Begault says:

        One little ingredient I use sometimes are those little dried shrimp that you can usually get at any grocery store check out in the New Orleans area. I try to make sure each ball has at least a couple of those little dried shrimp.

        • Genet says:

          Very interesting Barry! You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about those little shrimp recently because they really are “Cajun umami.” I would suspect they contribute
          flavors similar to anchovies or anchovy paste (which I sneak into all sorts of dishes). Do you add the shrimp whole or chop them up? Any of your other recipes
          include them?

          • Barry Begault says:

            Sorry it’s been so long for a reply. Depending on the size of the shrimp, I usually use them whole. I haven’t yet used them in any other recipe, but that can change quickly.
            Moved back to Metairie last June and I’m not liking Post Katrina New Orleans. Expensive, and rude people. Probably the transplants that are rude, the locals still have the New Orleans charm.
            I introduced my wife, a Texas native, to Short Stop po-boys and I think we gained an easy 15 lbs. the first few months back.
            Keep on cooking and let us know when you move back.

          • Genet says:

            Barry–I agree whole-heartedly on the “New” New Orleans. I’m heartbroken by much of it. But, hey, at least we still have great food and plenty of blue-haired ladies and men (my kids love that term) to keep us natives grounded!

  4. Todd says:

    Hello all.
    I recently moved to New Orleans and had these at a party. I wanted to make some more and found our recipe, love it, but I also wanted to Freeze them. Has anyone had any success freezing these and serving them later?
    Thank you

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