Meatless Monday – Pan Seared Artichokes with Blackened Garlic

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Mmmm… finger lickin’ good! I have made artichokes many times but never pan seared and I probably won’t go back.  These are seriously good!  My Mom used to serve platters of steamed artichokes that we dipped in mayo.  I remember leaving piles and piles of spent artichoke leaves lined with teeth marks on my plate   I still love them cooked that way, simple and homey, but as a food blogger I like to try new things and this one is a keeper!  Searing the artichoke wedges instead of steaming them, intensifies their flavor.  And if you haven’t tried burnt blackened garlic cloves, you’re missing out.  When they are cooked at a higher heat or for a longer period of time, they lose their pungent, sharp quality and become sweet and caramelly so you can safely (and eagerly) eat them whole without getting garlicky dragon breath.   After searing the artichokes, I added lemon zest, salt and pepper and let them steam in sherry and water while they reduce into a sauce. Delish and less than 20 minutes!  Recipe adapted from a Cook Fresh, Spring 2015 recipe for Pan Seared Artichokes with Sherry Vinegar and Thyme.

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The globe artichoke is a variety of a species of thistle which has been cultivated as a food. The part that we eat is actually a flower bud that hasn’t bloomed yet.  Once the flowers bloom, they are quite striking with their vivid purple blossoms but they are no longer good to eat.

Arthichokes are low in calories and fat, and a rich source of dietary fiber and anti-oxidants. B vitamins, and a great source of  Vitamin K (good for bone health) and a whole host of minerals including Potassium, Copper and Iron (all necessary for heart and blood health).  If you want to make this a meal, serve the artichokes over a simple pasta tossed with butter or olive oil or on top of a leafy green salad with tomatoes and olives.

TIPS: I thought these pan seared artichokes were good just on their own and I loved the blackened garlic too,  however, if you can’t imagine eating artichokes without a creamy dip, try making an Aioli with some of the blackened garlic, mayo or yogurt, lemon and salt and pepper.  A sprinkle of parmesan could be good too!

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PAN SEARED ARTICHOKES WITH BLACKENED GARLIC

2 large artichokes
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sherry
6-8 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsn lemon juice – to prevent browning (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsn fresh oregano or thyme, chopped

AIOLI DIPPING SAUCE  (Optional)

1 cup mayo (or half plain yogurt/ half mayo)
8 blackened garlic halves
1 Tbsn grated lemon zest
2 Tbsn fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black  pepper
1/2 tsp salt

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  • Trim artichoke stems to about 1/2 inch and remove the top inch by cutting straight across. Remove tough lower leaves. Using kitchen shears (or a knife) cut sharp points off each artichoke leaf (optional)

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  • Cut artichoke in half vertically.

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  • Cut each half in half and remove choke (the hairy center and purple inner leaves)

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  • Cut in half again.  You should have 8 wedges for each artichoke.  You can place the wedges in water with lemon juice to keep them from browning until you are ready (optional)

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  •  Drain artichokes and toss with a drizzle of olive oil (about 1 Tablespoon).

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  • Combine sherry with 1/3 cup water and set aside. Peel and slice garlic in half.  Roughly chop fresh herbs.

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  • Heat remaining oil in a heavy skillet on medium high and place artichoke wedges in a single layer one cut side down and sprinkle with garlic.  Cook until browned, 3 to five minutes.

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  • Turn each wedge to brown the other cute side, another 3 minutes or so.

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  • Turn wedges onto their curved side.  Season with salt and pepper and lemon zest.  Reduce heat to low, add the sherry mixture, cover and simmer until the liquid has reduced and the artichockes are tender, about 5 minutes.  If they don’t seem quite done, leave covered until ready to serve.

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  • Sprinkle with fresh  herbs. Serve hot or at room temperature with lots of napkins. If using  Aioli, combine all ingredients  until smooth and serve on the side.

Pan Seared Artichoke with Blackened Garlic

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 large artichokes
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sherry
6-8 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsn lemon juice – to prevent browning (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsn fresh oregano or thyme, chopped

AIOLI DIPPING SAUCE  (Optional)

1 cup mayo (or half plain yogurt/ half mayo)
8 blackened garlic halves (mashed or pureed)
1 Tbsn grated lemon zest
2 Tbsn fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black  pepper
1/2 tsp salt

  • Trim artichoke stems to about 1/2 inch and remove the top inch by cutting straight across. Remove tough lower leaves.
  • Using kitchen shears (or a knife) cut sharp points off each artichoke leaf (optional)
  • Cut artichoke in half vertically.
  • Cut each half in half and remove choke (the hairy center and purple inner leaves)
  • Cut in half again.  You should have 8 wedges for each artichoke.  You can place the wedges in water with lemon juice to keep them from browning until you are ready (optional)
  •  Drain artichokes and toss with a drizzle of olive oil (about 1 Tablespoon).
  • Combine sherry with 1/3 cup water and set aside
  • Heat remaining oil in a heavy skillet on medium high and place artichoke wedges in a single layer one cut side down and sprinkle with garlic.  Cook until browned, 3 to five minutes.
  • Turn each wedge to brown the other cute side, another 3 minutes or so.
  • Turn wedges onto their curved side.  Season with salt and pepper and lemon zest.  Reduce heat to low, add the sherry mixture, cover and simmer until the liquid has reduced and the artichockes are tender, about 5 minutes.  Leave covered until ready to serve.
  • Sprinkle with fresh  herbs. Serve hot or at room temperature with lots of napkins.
  • If using  Aioli, combine all ingredients  until smooth and serve on the side.

Meatless Monday – Quinoa Salad with Artichokes, Olives and Chickpeas

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Quinoa is still the queen of the ancient grain world, just don’t tell freekah or farro.  Other grains try but they can’t steal the crown, perhaps because quinoa is so versatile and packed with nutrients. It is also the perfect backdrop for putting colorful veggies on display.  This yummy salad with quinoa, artichokes, olives, cherry tomatoes and chickpeas with fresh herbs tossed in a light lemony dressing is deceptively hearty and filled with protein. I love this combination of flavors.  The salty kalamata olives combined with the earthy chickpeas, lemony artichoke hearts and sweet tomatoes are lovely together, making a pretty and delicious meal. It got rave reviews last night from my husband, but then again, with these ingredients it’s pretty hard not to like.   If you are looking for an easy-to-assemble-in-less-than-half-an-hour-dish, this is it!  Since it is served slightly warm or at room temperature, this salad makes the perfect buffet or potluck dish.  Make it  ahead and let it sit until you’re ready-no last minute reheating required. In fact it only gets better the longer it sits and marinates, allowing the flavors to develop. This would also be a great use for leftover quinoa.  Just toss together with the veggies and herbs. Done!

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Why should you eat more quinoa?  Quinoa is known for being  great source of protein,  but it’s not only the amount, it’s the type of protein. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a ‘complete protein’, which is rarely found in plant foods, though common in meats. Amino acids are considered ‘essential’ if our bodies can’t produce them and we can only get them through our diets. My husband asked me how our livestock animals get enough protein when they only eat grass or grains.  I did not know the answer so I did what everyone does today, I googled it. Herbivores, animals that get all of their nutrition from grass and other plants, have no problem getting enough protein in their diet. Unlike humans, herbivores are capable of digesting plant cells and getting to the nutrients locked inside, like protein. So there you have it.  Cows and other ruminants who spend their day chewing their cud have superior digestive systems. But I digress, back to the star of today.  Quinoa also offers a good dose of fiber, iron and a whole host of other vitamins and minerals. It is low in calories, gluten-free and cruelty-free making it a great dietary choice for everyone.

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TIPS:  This is a vegan salad, however, crumbling feta on top would be a delicious addition for cheese lovers.  I did not have any or I may have been tempted to add a sprinkle or two.  Don’t forget to rinse the quinoa before cooking to remove the bitter saponin, a naturally occurring substance that coats quinoa to protect it from predators. Just use a colander with a fine mesh or you will lose some of your quinoa down the drain.  Some quinoa is pre-rinsed so check the label. Very important! Zest your lemon before cutting it in half.  Once they are cut, they are almost impossible to zest. I’ve tried…

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QUINOA SALAD WITH ARTICHOKES, OLIVES AND CHICKPEAS

1 cup quinoa (plain or tri-color)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 16 oz can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
1 16 oz can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped or julienned (plus more for garnish)

Dressing (Note:  This is a lightly dressed salad.  If you like a lot of dressing, double the recipe):

1/4 cup olive oil
zest from one lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh oregano, minced (or 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning)
Salt and pepper, to taste

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  • Rinse quinoa and cook according to package instructions. Then transfer cooked quinoa to a large serving bowl and fluff with a fork to remove any lumps.

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  • Add the tomatoes, artichoke hearts, chickpeas ,olives, and basil.

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  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and oregano. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the couscous mixture and stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Garnish with more basil, if desired. Serve room temperature.

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Quinoa Salad with Artichokes, Olives and Chickpeas

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 cup quinoa (plain or tri-color)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 16 oz can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
1 16 oz can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped or julienned (plus more for garnish)

Dressing (Note:  This is a lightly dressed salad.  If you like a lot of dressing, double the recipe):

1/4 cup olive oil
zest from one lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh oregano, minced (or 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning)
Salt and pepper, to taste

  • Make quinoa according to package instructions. Then transfer cooked quinoa to a large serving bowl and stir to remove any lumps.
  • Add the tomatoes, artichoke hearts, chickpeas ,olives, and basil.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and oregano. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour the dressing over the couscous mixture and stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Garnish with more basil, if desired.
  • Serve room temperature.

 

 

Roasted Butternut Squash, New Potatoes, Artichoke Hearts and Wilted Tomatoes

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Fall officially begins tomorrow so time to start thinking about sweaters and boots.  Here in California we are literally just thinking about it but soon cold weather will be a reality, and with it hopefully some much needed rain.  Along with cooler temperatures comes more lovely squashes, root vegetables and the last of the tomatoes from the garden.  I absolutely love a colorful plate and make an effort to Eat the Rainbow which is not only gorgeous but also more nutritious in that a colorful variety provides a wider range of nutrients.  Go bold!  The brighter the color the bigger the bounty. For those of you with picky eaters at home there is even a downloadable game Eat the Rainbow Challenge which might encourage your kids to go beyond carrot sticks and apple slices.  Here is the rundown from Every Day Health of just what that beautiful color can do for you.

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Red. In fruits and vegetables, red is usually a sign of vitamin A (beta carotene) and vitamin C. Typically, red produce are also high in manganese and fiber. Choose red bell peppers, tomatoes, cherries, cranberries, raspberries, rhubarb, pomegranates, and beets. Red apples also contain quercetin, a compound that seems to fight colds, the flu, and allergies. Tomatoes, watermelon, and red grapefruit are loaded with lycopene, a compound that appears to have cancer-fighting properties

Yellow. Banana is probably the first yellow fruit that comes to mind — and it delivers potassium and fiber. You will also find potassium and fiber plus manganese, vitamin A, and magnesium in other yellow produce, such as spaghetti squash, summer squash, and yellow bell peppers.

Black Rice Squash cut raw

Orange. Just a shade away from red, orange in fruits and vegetables signifies a similar vitamin and mineral profile. You’ll get vitamins C, A, and B6, potassium, and fiber in choices such as butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, oranges, pumpkins, orange peppers, nectarines, and peaches.

Green. Dark leafy greens are packed with nutrients — this group offers far more vitamins and minerals than iceberg lettuce. A favorite dark leafy green is spinach because of its rich lutein content, which aids eyesight, and folate, which supports cell reproduction. Broccoli and asparagus also contain these compounds.

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Blue. Think blue, and you’re most likely picturing a bowl of blueberries, one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants. They are also loaded with fiber and make an incredibly versatile addition to your diet

Purple. This group includes vegetables like red onions and eggplant, and fruits such as blackberries, Concord grapes, currants, and plums. Purple indicates the presence of anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that protect blood vessels and preserve healthy skin. You can also find vitamin A and flavonoids in purple vegetables like radicchio, purple cabbage, purple potatoes, and purple carrots.

White. White may not be much of a color, but white vegetables, such as cauliflower, rutabagas, and parsnips, still shine with vitamins and minerals like vitamins C, K, and folate, and they contain fiber. Don’t forget onions and garlic, which have a compound called allicin that seems to protect the heart and blood vessels from damage.
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For Meatless Monday this week, I roasted butternut squash, purple, pink and white baby potatoes, artichoke hearts and assorted small tomatoes from my garden.  This is a really easy and quick dinner to prepare, ready in a half hour, and almost any root vegetable, like carrots, turnips or parsnips that you might have on hand can be added.  I happen to really love the small purple potatoes.  They add an interesting color and their flavor is more defined than a white potato.  Just slice the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and pulp.  Remove the peel and dice into medium cubes. Cut potatoes in half (or quarters if larger). Place potatoes and squash in a large baking dish and toss with oil and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

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Remove from the oven and add artichoke hearts, tomatoes and fresh herbs and bake another 10 minutes or until squash and potatoes are fork tender and the tomatoes are ‘wilted’. Splash a bit of balsamic vinegar over the top of the cooked vegetables, if desired, and gently stir to combine.

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Serve topped with crumbled feta, if desired, or cool and serve warm or cold over a bed of fresh mixed lettuce drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.

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  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2-3 cups new potatoes
1 small butternut squash (2-3 cups cubed)
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 cups artichoke hearts packed in water, drained
1-2 cups assorted small and/or cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh herbs, thyme or oregano
1 tsp cumin (or more to taste)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsn balsamic vinegar (optional)
1/2 cup feta (optional)

  • Cut butternut squash in half, lengthwise and scoop out seeds and pulp.  Remove the peel and dice into medium cubes.
  • Cut potatoes in half (or quarters if larger)
  • Place potatoes and squash in a large baking dish and toss with oil
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes
  • Remove from the oven and add artichoke hearts, tomatoes and fresh herbs and bake another 10 minutes or until squash and potatoes are fork tender.  Add balsamic vinegar, if desired, and gently stir to combine.
  • Serve warm topped with crumbled feta, if desired, or cool and serve over a bed of fresh mixed lettuce drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Jerusalem Chicken with Fava & Spring Vegetable Saute

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Can there really be a cookbook co-written by an Israeli and a Palestinian?  Yes, and it is a work of art!   Yotam Ottelenghi, from the Jewish West, and Sami Tamimi, from the Arab East, have written a gloriously beautiful book, “Jerusalem”, which is a cookbook with wonderful recipes but also gorgeous photos and personal commentary that portray life in Jerusalem where they both grew up, albeit in different parts of the city.  They didn’t know each other in Jerusalem but met later in London and became good friends and then business partners.  They now own many successful restaurants together. They claim that this book was a walk down memory lane for them, “a nostalgic trip into their pasts”.  More about “Jerusalem”

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My friend, Stephanie, brought this book back from Israel for my birthday last year and I thought it appropriate to try one of it’s dishes for Passover.  I made their Roasted Chicken with Jerusalem Artichoke and Lemon which was delicious.  The combination of lemon, artichoke,  halved shallots, garlic and sliced lemon combined with saffron and fresh herbs was really flavorful.  I couldn’t find Jerusalem artichoke so substituted canned artichoke quarters packed in water.  I used local, free range chicken, herbs from my garden and lemons from my tree in an effort to make a smaller footprint (and frankly, to support the small local growers because if it’s a profitable to let chickens run around in the sunshine, maybe more will follow suit).

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So now I know why fava beans are so expensive.  I had planted fava beans as a cover crop to introduce nitrogen into the soil for my summer tomatoes, not realizing that you are supposed to pull or plow under cover crops when they are flowering and not let them fruit or they pull all the nitrogen back out of the soil. ( More Info on Cover Crops Thank you Sean for all the cover crop info! )  I had already messed up on the cover crop thing since I had quite a few fava bean pods growing on my plants already, so I decided to let them go a bit longer and enjoy a mini harvest.  It seemed a shame to throw out such beautiful, healthy plants so I procrastinated a bit more.  Then we had dinner at a great local restaurant, Farmshop, which offered a roasted halibut on a bed of spring vegetables with fava leaves.  What?  You can eat the leaves?  I had to order the dish just to see for myself.  The dish was delicious but more importantly I now know what to do with my favas.  Finally I can feel good about pulling out my plants before their time.  So why are fava beans so expensive?  First, a big pile of fava beans in their pods shrinks into a small bowl of edible beans.  Secondly, they require a four step process before they are edible.  First they need to be shelled, then parboiled and put straight into an ice bath and finally their skins have to be removed.  Luckily I had two capable helpers, Veronica and Eric who made quick work of the favas.  How to shell fava beans.

I paired the chicken with a spring vegetable medley which includes fava beans, fava leaves, zucchini, asparagus and baby bella mushrooms all diced to be the same size as your average fava bean.  I was really wishing my Dad was in the kitchen to help out as well.  He is the world’s best sous chef.  He wields the paring knife like a master, cutting everything beautifully into  the perfect same size so everything cooks at the same rate.  Luckily, I learned from the best!.

Jerusalem Chicken aka Roasted Chicken with Jerusalem Artichoke and Lemon

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 

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  • 1 lbs Artichokes, peeled and cut lengthwise so they are 2/3 thick
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 bone-in chicken breasts
  • 12 shallots, halved lengthwise
  • 12 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 medium lemon, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tspn saffron threads
  • 3.5 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2/3 cup of cold water
  • 1.5 tbsp of crushed peppercorns
  • 1/4 fresh thyme
  • 1 cup of tarragon leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

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  • Combine artichoke, water and half of the lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil, and then lower to simmer for 10-20 minutes. If you are using canned or marinated artichokes, this is not necessary.

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  • Mix all ingredients (except the lemon juice and half of the tarragon) in a bowl. Cover and let marinade overnight, or at least 2 hours.

  • Preheat oven to 475degrees. Arrange chicken with the skin up in the center of the pan. Place the remaining ingredients around them.

  • Roast for 30 minutes uncovered.

  • Roast for additional 15 minutes, covered with foil or top, or until full cooked.

  • Add the reserve tarragon and lemon juice.

Stir, taste and add salt if necessary.

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Fava & Spring Vegetable Saute

2 – 3 dozen fava bean pods
large bunch fava leaves (optional)
1/2  bunch asparagus
1 zucchini
6 large mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp each  of fresh thyme and oregano
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  • Dice all vegetables (except for fava beans and leaves) and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a heavy pan and sauté garlic and diced vegetables. 

 

  • Add herbs, fava beans and leaves and stir until leaves are wilted.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.