Today, I’m a guest blogger over at The Badger Girl Learns to Cook as part of a great Healthy Blogger Thursday series. I met Kimberley, aka Badger Girl, on #lovebloghop, and have gotten to know her balanced style of cooking (and living) through her wonderful recipes. Just as I’m mostly vegetarian, she’s mostly vegan and mostly wheat-free. Each Thursday Kimberley features a blogger who has a focus on healthy cooking. Please go check out some of the other posts!
A few months ago, I wrote about finally seeing little artichokes growing in my garden. Well I’m here to tell you I had a bumper crop of seven (!!) artichokes by time my two plants were done for the season. I couldn’t wait to harvest the first one, so it didn’t get quite as large as the other ones did. But eventually they were all harvested and enjoyed. It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again, there is really something so grounding, excuse the pun, and satisfying about growing something that puts food on the table for you and your family.
And there are few things as dramatic as seeing an artichoke rise, torch-like, above the leaves on a thick, strong stalk.
One of the many ways I like to serve artichokes is to simmer them in acidulated water until tender. Then I hollow out the thin, small leaves and choke to form a receptacle for anything from a dip to use with the leaves to a grains salad. I flavor the acidulated water with white wine, lemon, thyme and garlic to eliminate the need for a dip, so I more often than not will fill the hollowed out center with a quinoa, farro, or Israeli couscous. And it’s perfect for entertaining since you can cook the artichokes and make the grains salad in advance, chilling them until you’re ready to serve them. For serving, you can nestle the grains dish in the middle as in the below photo, or spill them all over the artichokes, allowing their leaves to catch morsels of goodness.
Artichokes Filled with Citrus, Olive and Raisin Israeli Couscous
- 6 cups water
- 2 cups white wine
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 10 whole peppercorns
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- 3 bunches of fresh thyme (about 10 stems worth)
- 4 artichokes
Citrusy Israeli Couscous
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup Israeli couscous
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup diced dried apricots
- 2 tablespoons yellow raisins
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced green olives
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Making the Artichokes
Combine all of the ingredients for the Artichokes except the artichokes in a large heavy pot large enough to sit the artichokes on the bottom, facing up. I use a Le Creuset for this, and it works perfectly.
Bring to a boil over high heat.
Trim the artichokes by cutting off their stalks so they will sit upright in the pot; cut off the top 1 – 1 12 inches flat across. Using kitchen scissors, snip off the points of each leaf. They may have thorns, the artichoke is in the thistle family, so be careful.
Place the artichokes in the acidulated water. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until you’re able to easily pull a leaf off, and the ‘meat’ of the leaf is soft at the base where it was attached to the bulb. The amount of cooking time will depend on the size of the artichokes.
Remove from the pot and allow to cool enough to be able to handle them. Pull out the small, thin leaves in the middle of the artichoke, and using a spoon (I use a grapefruit spoon with serrated edges), gently scrape out the choke at the bottom to reveal the bottom of the artichoke. I do this by teasing the hairs of the choke away from the outside edge where it meets the first row of leaves with the spoon. Discard the choke, and fill the hollowed out area with the Citrusy Israeli Couscous.
Making the Citrusy Israeli Couscous
Combine the orange juice and vegetable broth in a medium pot over medium – high heat and bring to a boil.
Add the couscous, garlic, dried apricots and raisins, and simmer until the couscous is al dente, about 10 – 12 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom. If the liquid is in danger of boiling off, add additional orange juice if needed.
Remove from the stove and toss with the olives and pine nuts. Serve warm.