Thursday, April 11, 2013

How to Cook and Eat a Fresh Artichoke - Bonus Dipping Sauce Recipe!

Hey all!  I realize that I haven't been posting consistently as of late, but I've been a busy little bee here and haven't had the time.  I got a new job, and we are getting ready for springtime here at the Fur Ninja house - lots of spring cleaning and planting the gardens.  We planted cucumbers, okra, golden beets, peas, tomatoes, a rainbow of different colored bell peppers, a mix of leaf lettuces, and onions....also moonflowers and daisies, and we might put in strawberries and a blueberry bush as well.  So I've been busybusybusy and haven't had a moment to devote to posting new recipes for you.  But, I'm back and will have some lovely new springtime eats for all of you!

So to start with the welcome-to-spring recipes, here's a great one for fresh-cooked artichokes and a yummy dipping sauce to go with them.  Before meeting Mike, I had never had a fresh, whole artichoke before, and he taught me how easy they are to make and fun to eat!

First, we're going to talk about how to cook an artichoke.  It's easy.  First you need an artichoke (or two):

Cut off most of the length of the stem and pull off any dirty or malformed bottom leaves.  Rinse the artichokes and put them in a large pot.  Add water to cover.  Now place the pot, uncovered, over high heat and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to a simmer, and simmer the artichokes for 30 minutes.  When the time is up, check for done-ness by pulling at the bottom leaves.  They should come off easily.  If not, simmer them for a few more minutes.
That's it!  Now you're ready to eat.  Here's how to eat an artichoke:

1. Pull off a leaf from the bottom.

2. Dip in sauce (optional).  Mike likes mayo, but some Vegenaise would probably also be amazing since we're vegans around here.  Also good is hummus, goddess dressing, and my own recipe for chili chickpea dip (recipe below).

3. Scrape off the sauce and soft outer layers of the leaf with your teeth, as Mike is demonstrating here.

4. Discard the rest of the leaf.

5. Repeat with a new leaf until all the leaves are gone.
With yummy goddess dressing and chili chickpea dip in the background

6. Once all the leaves are gone, you'll be left with the artichoke heart that is covered by this weird, fuzzy stuff called the "choke."  Don't eat the choke.  Remove it with your fingers to uncover the heart below.
The choke covering the yummy heart

Mike pulling off the fuzzy choke

Choke gone and the heart is ready to eat!

7. Cut or break the heart into bite-sized pieces, dip and eat!

8.  Yum!  Have another!

Artichokes are so easy to make and such fun finger-food that I'm sad I only just discovered how awesome they are.  We'll be eating a lot of these outside this summer!

Now, as promised, here is the super-easy and tasty recipe for my Chili Chickpea Dip. This dip is great not just with artichokes, but also with other fresh veggies, tortilla chips, or pita bread.  You can add more or less hot sauce to adjust for how much spice you want.

Chili Chickpea Dip

1-15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1-14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (preferably fire roasted)
1/2 an onion, chopped coarsely 
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 Tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro

Throw everything in a blender or food processor and pulse until everything is well combined.  You don't want to totally puree the mixture; it should be a little chunky but everything should be evenly mixed.  Chill until ready to serve.

That's all for now, but I'll be back soon with a recipe for kid-approved peanut butter and jelly muffins, and I'm working on a mac and cheese with kale and lemon raspberry scone recipes as well.  See you soon!


The Fur Ninja <3

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