Artichokes were something new for me. I've used the canned hearts quite a bit but have never worked with the whole artichoke before, so decided to tackle these this week. I have to say they were a little bit of work but they did turn out pretty darn good. I decided to grill them which turned out great. This way would work great for an appetizer in a group setting. The leaves each have a little bit of "meat" on them, so it makes for a an easy finger food. Just dip it in the sauce and suck the sauce off and scrape away the meat with your teeth.
So through a little research I learned how to clean these massive thistles. Yeah they actually belong to the thistle family, crazy right? So the first step was to clean up the stalk. If you look at the picture above you can see the difference between an unprepared artichoke (left one) and and cleaned one (right one). After you have cleaned up the stems the next step is to chop them in half like in the picture below. Once you have them sliced lengthwise you will need to clean out the pulp from the inside of the artichoke. I just used a pairing knife to to this, you could also probably use a spoon.
One thing to note when you are working with artichokes is that if you leave them sitting out they will oxidize and turn black. Similar to an apple turning brown or avocado turning black. So to counter this have a bowl of acidulated water nearby to soak them. I just added about a 1/4 cup of lemon juice to a big bowl of water.
Once you have cleaned the artichokes and rinsed them of any sand or dirt, you will need to boil them for roughly 15-20 minutes to soften the flesh. After you boil them go ahead and transfer to your hot grill and grill for 5-10 minutes until you get a nice char on them. No need to flip them since all the flesh is on the cut side.
While the artichokes were boiling I prepared the creamy balsamic dipping sauce for the artichokes. To do this I added 1 tbsp olive oil to a small sauce pan, then cooked 3 diced garlic cloves until slightly brown. Add 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp of butter and cook for 10 minutes letting the sauce reduce and bring the sweetness of the balsamic vinegar out. Cover and keep warm. Before serving add 1/2 cup of unflavored greek yogurt and stir until combined.
Health Benefits of Artichokes*
*Nutrition data taken from http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/artichoke.html
It's been a while since we have done a Weird Veg Wednesday. My inspiration kicked in tonight with some portabello mushrooms that we had in the fridge along with some other ingredients that we had in the house. I've done stuffed portabellos before, I've done portabello fries, but this was a new adventure for me. The attempt was to turn a portabello mushroom into a taco shell. I'm happy to say IT WORKED!!!
The rest of the dish was pretty simple beef taco meat using the homemade taco seasoning mix that we made a few months ago. The salsa was a roasted corn, black bean salsa. We topped it with a little guacamole and some cilantro and it made for a delicious taco. On side we made some Spanish rice with a little sauteed red onion and chili powder.
The Cook & The Coach
Healthy is a LIFESTYLE.