If you’re like me, sometimes you find yourself staring into your pantry or fridge and see something that inspires the heck out of your next meal. Today’s entrée was inspired by a can of artichoke hearts leftover from Mister’s Vegan Baked Ziti dish. I originally saw this recipe on Kate’s Framed Cooks blog and mentally bookmarked it.
The artichokes in this recipe soak up the lemon juice like little flavor-packed sponges. Who knew artichokes could hold so much bright citrus? They really freshen up otherwise dull chicken breasts. The hint of fresh thyme is a nice touch too – mostly because it gave me an excuse to go to the local greenhouse and buy myself a thyme plant. Double win.
Veganism is something that Mister and I are both currently exploring. We are meat lovers at heart, but from time to time I find an amazing vegan recipe that I have to try (and Mister is typically my guinea pig). Plus a good friend of ours is vegan, which provides even more opportunities to create some of these dairy and egg-free dishes.
Mister whipped this up for our last potluck and it turned out really good. We took the leftovers and baked them with layers of leftover marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese as well. Simply use vegan mozz if you’d like to do the same (which, I highly recommend).
This puppy made a ton of leftovers for us! Great to make on the weekend to enjoy for lunch for the next few days.
1 small can marinated artichokes, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
soy parmesan (optional)
Cook the ziti al dente. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the tomatoes, tofu, garlic, basil, vinegar, salt, pepper and olive oil. Process to a smooth consistency. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce and artichokes. Sprinkle with the parsley and soy parmesan, if desired.
I was at my local super market for something completely unrelated to this post when I ran into a couple of artichokes. Now, this wasn’t my first rodeo with an artichoke (you can see my handy work here), but these artichokes were particularly rude. These rabble rousers were wreaking havoc amongst the customers in the store. Punks. I decided to take them home against their will, trim their leafy bodies, chop off their heads and boil their insides until they were soft enough to devour.
They were asking for it, after all.
And now ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for a step-by-step guide (artichokes beware): How to prepare a fresh artichoke.
1. Trim off the little thorns on the end of the leaves.
2. Slice about 3/4-inch to an inch off of the top of the artichoke.
3. Pull off any small leaves towards the base and the stem.
4. Cut excess stem, leaving up to an inch on the artichoke. The stems tend to be more bitter than the rest of the artichoke.
5. Rinse the artichokes in cold, running water.In a large pot, put a couple inches of water, a clove of garlic, a slice of lemon and a bay leaf. Insert a steaming basket and add the artichokes. Cover. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 25 to 45 minutes or until the outer leaves can easily be pulled off. Cooking time depends on how large the artichoke is.
TO EAT AN ARTICHOKE
Pull off outer petals, one at a time.
Dip white fleshy end in melted butter or sauce. Place in mouth, dip side down, and pull through teeth to remove the soft, pulpy portion of the petal. Discard the rest.
3. Continue until petals are removed.
4. With a knife or a spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the “choke”) covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bit is the heart. Cut into pieces, drench in sauce and devour.
Note that I couldn’t help taking a nibble out of the heart before I took a picture.
I had a particular craving one day for a creamy, cheesy, garlicky, artichoke and spinach dip. From time to time, I’ll get mad cravings for food that’ll drive me buggy until I satisfy them. So, I decided to satisfy!
Because I had never made this particular dip before, I researched some recipes online. I was surprised at how many recipes called for canned artichoke hearts. I tend to lean towards a “make it from scratch” kind of mentality, so I decided to pull the hearts out of fresh, organic artichokes instead. This turned out to be a lot of work for little artichoke meat as a result. Next time I may use the canned hearts in addition to the fresh artichokes I must say, it was definitely an experience!
The end result was still delicious. One commenter used this to stuff chicken breast. What a great idea!
1 cup artichoke hearts (if using fresh you will also need an additional clove of garlic, a slice of lemon, and a bay leaf)
1 cup ricotta cheese
8-ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
If you are using fresh artichokes:
Snip the little thorns on the end of the leaves off with a food scissors. Then slice about 3/4 inch to an inch off the tip of the artichoke. Pull off any smaller leaves towards the base and on the stem. Cut excess stem, leaving up to an inch on the artichoke. Rinse the artichokes in running cold water. In a large pot, put a couple inches of water, a clove of garlic, a slice of lemon, and a bay leaf. Insert a steaming basket. Add the artichokes and cover. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. I used three medium sized artichokes for this recipe and boiled for 35 to 45 minutes. Times will differ according to the size of your artichokes. You want these to simmer until the outer leaves can easily be pulled off.
To get to the heart of the artichoke:
Pull off outer petals, one at a time. You can scrape the white fleshy end with a spoon and use this for your dip. This is tedious and doesn't have a fantastic result. Personally, I would save these petals to dip into melted butter. Continue peeling until all of the petals are removed. With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (the "choke"). This fuzzy part covers the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the delicious and tender heart. Cut into pieces for this recipe.
Start here if you are not using fresh artichokes:
Oil a large frying pan and simmer the minced garlic and spinach over medium heat, until the spinach is wilted but still bright green (2-4 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in ricotta cheese and cream cheese, mixing well. Add artichoke hearts. Stir in red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Add half of the parmesan cheese and add lemon juice if desired. Mix well and spread mixture in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan cheese on the top.
Putting it all together
Set baking dish on the center shelf of the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn the oven to the broil setting and broil until cheese has melted and top is bubbly with lightly browned edges. This will not take very long, so watch closely!
Serve hot and enjoy with crusty bread, vegetables, or crackers for dipping.