Apr 29, 2020

Let’s Dish and Talk About Artichokes!

By Maryann Miano

The goal of eating it is to get to its bottom, considered the reward of its tender, meaty flesh. There is work involved – you’ll need to pull and tug the tougher, spiny outer leaves, scraping the little bit of the thistle with your teeth, if you want to reveal the heart of the artichoke.

The little artichoke is quite the nutrition powerhouse. Artichokes are only 60 calories and are fat- and cholesterol-free. They provide iron, large doses of vitamin C, dietary fiber, magnesium and folate. Cynarin, a compound extracted from artichokes, has anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering properties and helps lower blood sugar. The artichoke is a natural diuretic, a digestive aid and provides nutrition to health-promoting bacteria in the intestinal tract. But it doesn’t stop there. Artichokes are good sources of fiber, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A and B.

 Prepare an artichoke for cooking as follows:

  • Securely hold the artichoke and cut off the top 1/3 of the vegetable with a sharp knife. Cut the stem at the base so the artichoke will sit upright in the pan.
  • Snap off the toughest outer leaves, starting at the base. When the leaves do not snap as readily, you’ve removed enough of the tough leaves.
  • With kitchen scissors, snip the top of the remaining outer leaves to remove the sharp spike.
  • Spread the outer leaves apart from the center choke as far as you can to remove the inner leaves and fuzzy choke. The main part of the choke has to be dug out so that, with a spoon, you can scrape out the hairy part of the choke that covers the heart. Leave the heart intact. If you would rather avoid this step, the choke can be easily removed after cooking in the process of “dismantling” the artichoke to enjoy.
  • It’s a good idea to drizzle some lemon juice over the cut parts of the artichoke to avoid discoloration.

 

At this point, you can place the artichokes in a steamer in a cooking pot, with enough water to steam but not enough to touch the bottom of the artichokes. Season with salt and some olive oil. Steam for about 40 minutes, then prepare a dip of melted butter or of mayonnaise. The individual leaves are pulled from their fleshy base, dipped in the butter, and eaten one at a time, using your teeth to scrape the soft part of the curved portion of the leaf. This is enjoying the vegetable in its simplest terms. The leaf is then discarded.

This spring, surprise your family with this easy-to-prepare but fantastically delicious (and pretty presentation, too!) recipe:

 

ARTICHOKE PIE

INGREDIENTS:

2 cans artichoke hearts, drained well (squeeze all excess water) and cut into small pieces

1-8 oz. mozzarella cheese, cut into small pieces

4 eggs

1 clove of garlic, finely minced

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Salt and pepper, to taste

½ stick pepperoni or dried sausage, diced or grated

½ cup of grating cheese (percorino or parmesan)

2 deep dish pastry pie crusts (in the freezer section of your local supermarket), or use your own recipe for pastry crust.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix all of the above ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl.
  2. Place mixture in pie shell and use second pie shell to cover the top.
  3. Use beaten egg yolks to glaze the top of the pie crust, being sure to cut a steam vent. Snip excess crust overhanging the edge with scissors.
  4. Place in preheated oven at 350 ° for one hour.
  5. Remove from oven and let sit for several minutes to allow pie to firm before cutting.