Friday, October 20, 2006

A is for....

Starting this week for 26 weeks, I am going through the alphabet food-wise.

Each week I'll do a post on a food or cuisine that starts with that weeks letter. How much fun with that be? Hopefully some. Let's find out.

A is for Artichoke.

Who: The Artichoke.
What: A leafy vegetable and a member of the thistle family.
When: Peak season is March thru May, but they are readily available year round.
Where: Louisiana and California grow almost all artichokes sold in North America.
Why: Artichokes are good sources of Vitamin C, Potassium and Folate. They are also fat free.

For years it seemed the only way artichokes were served was steamed whole, with butter or mayonnaise on the side for you to dip the leaves in. Now the hearts (the best part) turn up everywhere: salads, pasta, pizza, sandwiches; you are only limited by your imagination.

In addition to buying them whole, you are also buy artichokes canned, marinated in jars and frozen.

If you want to learn how to clean and cook artichokes, click here.

Artichoke Tartlets
Makes about 24
Adapted from City Palate Magazine

8 slices of bread
soft butter or margarine
1 large jar of marinated artichoke hearts
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely minced
3 tb mayonnaise
2 tb lemon juice
salt and pepper

Cut 3 - 2" circles out the bread, giving you 24 total. Spread one side of each round with a small amount of butter, and press, butter side down, into a mini muffin tin. Drain and chop the artichokes roughly, then mix with the cheese, pepper, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, then fill the tart shells. Bake for 15 minutes at 425'.
Be sure to let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Artichoke Hearts with Kalamata Olive and Tomato Dressing
serves 2-4 people

2 cans artichoke hearts, drained
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 of a medium tomato, seeded and diced
5 kalamata olives pitted and chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
1 tb red wine vinegar

Cut the hearts in half (or quarters if they are large) and place on your serving plate.
In a blender, food processor or with an immersion blender, combine the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Spoon over the artichokes and serve

Artichoke and Parmesan Crostini

8 slices of baguette
1 clove garlic, cut in half
2 tb mayonnaise
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts
4 tb grated parmesan cheese

Toast the baguette.
Put the garlic in a food processor and chop. Drain the artichokes, add to the processor and chop again. Add the mayo and cheese and pulse to combine.
Season with pepper to taste, and spread on the baguette slices.


KJP said...

Now there were some great ideas! I am headed for the kitchen to try the first one out!

Anonymous said...

I love this

Anonymous said...

What a fun and fabulous idea! I look forward to the remaining 25 letters :)

breadchick said...

What a fantastic idea Sara! Like the other commenters, I'm looking forward to the next 25 letters.

Lis said...

I also love this idea and look forward to your future posts!

I was introduced to marinated artichoke hearts by my father when I was a kid.. did NOT like them back then, but as an adult I'm quite fond of them - very much so in salads. I love these recipes and I think, especially, the artichoke and parmesan crostini would be the perfect nibbler for a chilly day when everyone is bundled up in the house.. I'll be trying them, thank you =)

Sara said...

Thanks everyone - hope you'll enjoy all the letters.

Lis - I hated artichokes when I was younger too. I went to a dinner once when I was a teenager and artichokes were the appetizer. I told the host I was allergic!

Anonymous said...

This is going to sound weird but artichokes are one of the only two vegetables my 8yr old will willingly eat. People always think, "Artichokes? Why on earth would she pick THOSE?!" What can I say? She's a clever girl :) They're delicious! (I love this letter idea. So clever)