What’s In Season? Baby Artichokes
Artichokes are one of the most attractive vegetables. It is actually a large thistle and is a member of the sunflower family. It resembles a large flower bud on top of a slender stalk. Artichokes are generally available all year long but baby artichokes are most fresh this time of year.
Artichokes are most often served steamed or in dips and other recipes, but grilling them adds a smoky dimension to their flavor. If you can get them, first-of-the-season baby artichokes will yield extra-tender results
Artichoke provides some of the following health benefits;
- Cardiovascular health – the high quantities of potassium in the vegetable help to maintain normal heart rhythm. Potassium also tones down the effect of sodium on blood pressure. This helps to maintain healthy blood pressure, which promotes good health of the heart.
- Immunity – the artichoke is rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants. This helps to boost the body’s immunity against diseases.
- Digestion – the vegetable is rich in dietary fiber, which supports a healthy digestive system. This helps to prevent constipation.
- Weight control – dietary fiber is regarded as a vital aid in weight control.
- Bone and muscle health – vitamin C assists in the formation of collagen. This protein supports the development of cartilage, bones, muscles and blood vessels. Magnesium helps to build healthy bones. It also supports muscle functions. Potassium supports the central nervous system and muscle functions.
Here are some healthy options for your artichoke adventure!
Artichokes with Roasted Red Pepper Dip
(A great alternative to a less healthy artichoke dip made with cream cheese)
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 artichokes (1 pound)
- 12 cups water
- 3 lemon slices
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely crumbled feta cheese
- ½ teaspoon capers
- Preheat broiler. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise, discarding seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil for 10 minutes or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 20 minutes. Peel and set aside.
- Cut off artichoke stems, and remove bottom leaves. Trim about 1 inch from tops of artichokes. Bring water, lemon slices, and bay leaf to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Add artichokes; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until a leaf near the center of each artichoke pulls out easily. Drain well; discard lemon and bay leaf. Set aside.
- Combine bell peppers, oil, mustard, and vinegar in a blender; process until smooth. Combine bell pepper mixture, oregano, basil, and black pepper. Spoon ⅔ cup into a serving bowl; sprinkle with feta and capers. Serve with artichokes or other vegetables. Cover and chill remaining dip.
Serves 2. Each serving contains Calories 105, Fat 3.5g, Protein 4.2g, Carbohydrate 17.3g, Fiber 7.1g, Cholesterol 3mg, Sodium 234mg, Calcium 80mg
Chicken and Sun Dried Tomato Orzo
(If you want to cut additional calories you can double the sauce and half the orzo)
- 8 ounces orzo, preferably whole-wheat
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, (not oil-packed), divided
- 1 plum tomato, diced
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 3 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram, divided
- 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed (1-1¼ pounds)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 9-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
- ½ cup finely shredded Romano cheese, divided
- Cook orzo in a large saucepan of boiling water until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and rinse.
- Meanwhile, place water, ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, plum tomato, garlic, marjoram, vinegar and 2 tsp. oil in a blender. Blend until just a few chunks remain.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent burning, until golden outside and no longer pink in the middle, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; tent with foil to keep warm.
- Pour the tomato sauce into the pan and bring to a boil. Measure out ½ cup sauce to a small bowl. Add the remaining ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes to the pan along with the orzo, artichoke hearts and cheese. Cook, stirring, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Divide among 4 plates.
- Slice the chicken. Top each portion of pasta with sliced chicken, 2 tablespoons of the reserved tomato sauce and a sprinkling of the remaining cheese and marjoram.
Serves 4. Each serving contains 457 calories, 12 g fat, 68 mg cholesterol, 54 g carbohydrates, 0 g added sugars, 36 g protein, 10 g fiber, 372 mg sodium, 546 mg potassium.
Tuna Pasta with Olives & Artichokes
- 8 ounces tuna steak, cut into 3 pieces
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried, divided
- ½ teaspoon salt, divided
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 6 ounces whole-wheat rotini or penne pasta
- 1 10-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and squeezed dry
- ¼ cup chopped green olives
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil or parsley for garnish
- Preheat grill to medium-high. Put a large pot of water on to boil.
- Toss tuna pieces in a bowl with 1 tablespoon oil, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (or ½ teaspoon dried), ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper. Grill the tuna until just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. When cool enough to handle, flake the tuna into bite-size pieces.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add artichoke hearts, olives, garlic and the remaining rosemary. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and wine; bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are broken down and the wine has reduced slightly, about 3 minutes more. Stir in the pasta, tuna pieces, lemon juice and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt; cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with basil (or parsley), if desired.
Serves 4. Each 2 Cup serving contains 421 calories, 17 g fat, 26 mg cholesterol, 42 g carbohydrates, 0 g added sugars, 22 g protein, 9 g fiber, 489 mg sodium;720 mg potassium.
Herb Pasta Primavera
- ½ box (½ pound) penne pasta
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
- 1 bunch asparagus, tips only
- 1 yellow or red bell pepper, julienned
- ¾ cup frozen green peas, thawed
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup roughly chopped mixed herbs (tarragon, parsley, chives)
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water about 6 to 9 minutes or until al dente. Rinse under cold water and set aside.
- Sauté artichoke hearts, asparagus, and bell pepper in olive oil about 3 to 5 minutes until tender. Add peas and cook for 1 minute.
- Add pasta to the pan and toss with lemon zest and juice, herbs, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serves 4. Each serving contains Calories 474, Sodium 302 mg, Carbohydrates 55g, Fiber 9g, Fat 12g, Protein 16g, Calcium 282mg