May 13, 2013

Stuffed Artichokes with Creamy Dipping Sauce

I remember these from when I was a child. My mom would make them every so often. She stuffed hers with Italian bread crumbs and olive oil. Then we dipped the leaves in drawn butter. It’s one of her favorites to this day. I hope you’ll try my version some time, Mama!

The artichokes we eat are actually the buds of a purple flower that can grow to more than three feet tall. Because of their tough exterior, artichokes require some careful preparation. But your efforts will reap nutritional rewards. Artichokes are a low glycemic, high fiber food that are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The artichoke is one of the oldest medicinal plants dating back to 4th century B.C. Ancient Greeks and Romans used the artichoke for digestive problems. In the 16th century, artichokes were documented as a treatment for liver problems and jaundice.

Most of us are very familiar with artichoke hearts, but the leaves offer lots of extra health-pomoting properties, such as lowering cholesterol and treating digestive disorders. They’re also fun to eat! Simply use your teeth to rake off the bottom portion of the fleshy parts of the insides of the leaves. When you get to the center, be sure not to eat the “choke” which is the hairy, prickly part (see diagram). Simple scoop it out with a spoon and then you get to your prize… the heart.

I replace the traditional breadcrumb stuffing with ground nuts and almond parmesan cheeze. This recipe makes enough stuffing for two large artichokes. You can always increase the ingredients for more!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large artichokes
  • 1 cup raw pecans
  • ½ cup almond parmesan cheeze
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp ground basil (or ¼ cup fresh, chopped)
  • 2 lemons

~ for the dipping sauce

  • 1 package Silken tofu
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 2 medjool dates

Directions:

  1. Add a few inches of water to a medium sized, deep pot for steaming and set it aside (the pot should be large enough to accommodate the two artichokes with the lid on and small enough that they will stand up in it).
  2. Remove the bottom stems from the artichokes and snip off the sharp thorns of the outer leaves with kitchen shears.
  3. Place pecans, parmesan cheeze, 2 cloves garlic and basil in a food processor and pulse until combined. The mixture should stick together when you pinch it. Set aside.
  4. Slice one of the lemons in half and squeeze its juice over the tops of the artichokes. 
  5. Slice the second lemon and squeeze its juice right into the water in the steaming pot. Insert the steaming basket and place the leftover lemons into the pot so they steam with the artichokes. The lemon juice on the artichokes and in the water will not only add flavor but also help a little bit in preventing a lot of oxidation. They will oxidize no matter what but the lemon retards the process a bit, making for a prettier (greener) cooked artichoke. Artichokes can turn very gray when they cook.
  6. Starting at the bottom of the artichokes, stuff the leaves with the nut mixture until you reach a point at the top where the leaves are too hard to pull apart.
  7. Gently place the artichokes into the steaming pot. 
  8. Cover and steam until cooked. You will know the artichokes are done by testing a leaf. Using tongs, tug on one of the leaves. If it pulls off easily, they’re done.
  9. Serve with dipping sauce.
Enjoy!
Healthy trails,

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