Ahhh the Artichoke!

I have to say, I was very fortunate to have a mother that introduced us to interesting fruits and vegetables at a very early age. Artichokes were one of those fun foods that we only got once in while, but were worth the wait.

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According to RUTGERS COOPERATIVE RESEARCH & EXTENSION N.J. AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION, Fact Sheet on Globe Artichokes, “Globe artichokes are high in cynarine, a chemical, which stimulates the production of bile and helps the digestion of fats.Therefore, artichokes are used as an appetizer before a rich meal or served at the end of the meal in some cultures. Ancient civilizations believed that the entire plant had medicinal value. Current research confirms that the plant leaves contain phytonutrients, which may have beneficial health effects and artichoke leaf extracts are being studied for their pharmaceutical properties. Leaf extracts have shown anti-microbial, anti-oxidative, hepato-protective, and choloretic activities, as well as inhibition of cholesterol biosynthesis” (NJAES, 2005).

Artichokes are a lot work! This is probably why we didn’t have them all the time and they are a little pricey in a restaurant. First you need to remove all of the tough leaves at the bottom and then clip all of the outer leaves. Cut off the stem so it will sit evenly in the pan. Put a little water and lemon juice in the pan and steam the artichoke until tender. While it is steaming, prepare your stuffing. I have made all different kinds of stuffing, many times with breadcrumbs, but this time I made a bread-less stuffing.

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The fun part about artichokes is eating the outer leaves. It’s like playing with your food! You scrape the leaves over your bottom teeth when you eat them! They have a little bit of an earthy and nutty flavor. Delicious! After you go through the leaves, you will come to the “choke” – DO NOT EAT this part of the artichoke, just remove it and underneath is what some believe to be the most flavorful part, the heart! It doesn’t look pretty, but dipped in the olive oil left from your stuffing, it is worth all of the work! Enjoy!

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Recipe for stuffing for two artichokes:

6 medium size mushrooms, chopped fine

6 mini red, yellow, orange peppers, chopped fine

1 small onion, chopped fine

2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine

1 cup fresh spinach, chopped

fresh basil

dried oregano

salt & pepper to taste

olive oil

juice of one lemon

white wine (optional)

Parmigiano cheese (about 1/4 cup freshly grated)

Heat skillet, add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions and peppers, saute for a few minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic. Saute a few more minutes. Add lemon juice. Add white wine. Let cook down a few minutes. Add basil, spinach, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook until spinach wilts. Add parmigiano cheese. Let cool.

Add stuffing to tender artichokes. Put in broiler for a few minutes. Enjoy!

 

Reference:

Nitzsche, P. (2005, January). Rutgers Cooperative Research & Extension, (NJAES,) Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Globe Artichoke Production in New Jersey. Retrieved April 2, 2014, from http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&ved=0CE4QFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fnjaes.rutgers.edu%2Fpubs%2Fdownload-free.asp%3FstrPubID%3DFS044&ei=ZyA8U_S2NY3gsASTmIHoDA&usg=AFQjCNHLSLXxTOb135IO-hEWhhcWAsQsHA&sig2=oqDKW0N_kRLmU1EVZUBbAw

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