Why You Should Enjoy Artichokes!

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Besides a good spinach artichoke dip, most of us don’t really know what to with the very interesting vegetable. Aside from having a good number of health benefits, the artichoke is way more versatile than given credit for. The artichoke originated in the Mediterranean and has been used for centuries for its potential medicinal properties. In the garden the artichoke resembles a thistle, often lavender, flanked by a giant silver-green fern with stalks up to 5 feet tall. While the unopened flower heads are traditionally harvested as a vegetable for the edible hearts, if left to bloom they will produce large, beautiful, lavender flowers.

The health benefits of the artichoke include lowering blood sugar levels, improving digestion, heart health, and liver health. They are packed with powerful nutrients, low in fat, rich in fiber, especially high in folate, and a good source of vitamins C and K.

Artichokes are sometimes intimidating, but shouldn’t be, they can be steamed, boiled, grilled, roasted, or sauteed. You can stuff them, bread them or just add spices and seasoning for an extra burst of flavor. The leaves and the heart can be eaten.

Steaming is the most popular cooking method and usually takes 20-40 minutes, depending on the size, or you can bake them for about 40 minutes at 350°F. Once you cook the artichoke, the outer leaves can be removed and used for dipping.

Be adventurous, and give these recipes a try!

Simple Oven Roasted Baby Artichokes and Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 20 baby artichokes
  • 5 lemon slices
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Grated Parmesan for topping

Directions

  1. Place a large baking sheet in the oven. Preheat oven to 450°F. I always like to leave the baking pan in the oven while preheating, it will give the vegetables a little sear and a head start.
  2. Cut off the top third of each artichoke. Trim the stem to within 1 inch of the base, peel stem. Remove bottom leaves and tough outer leaves, leaving the tender middle, heart, and bottom. Cut each artichoke in half lengthwise. Place artichokes, lemon slices, minced garlic, and 1 tablespoon oil in a bowl, toss to coat. Arrange mixture in a single layer on a hot baking sheet. Roast at 450 degrees for 15 minutes or until almost done and beginning to brown, stirring well after 10 minutes.
  3. Toss the asparagus with the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons oil. Stir asparagus into artichoke mixture. Roast at 450 degrees for 10 minutes or until tender, stirring after 5 minutes. I like mine a little crisp so I generally cook a little longer, carefully watching the progress.
  4. Place cooked vegetable mixture in a large bowl. Add butter, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, toss to combine. Sprinkle with grated parmesan.

Serves 8.

Crispy Artichoke Hearts with Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

(In Italy, crispy artichoke hearts were often served as a garnish, or topping)

Ingredients

For the Crispy Artichoke Hearts;

  • 3 cups artichoke hearts, frozen, thawed and drained, or canned drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon seasoned salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

For the Sun-Dried Tomato Dip; 

  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes
  • Juice from 3 lemons
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-2 tablespoons basil, chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil, you may use the oil from the packed sun-dried tomatoes

Directions

For the Crispy Artichoke Hearts;

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F, place a non-stick sprayed baking sheet in the oven while preheating.
  2. Add the artichoke hearts to a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, stir to coat. Sprinkle with seasoned salt, and black pepper and toss to coat.
  3. Arrange seasoned artichoke hearts in a single layer on the baking sheet, and bake for 45 minutes, stirring and flipping several times during the baking.
  4. Remove from the oven, they will crisp as they cool.

For the Sun-Dried Tomato Dip;

  1. Add tomatoes, juice of 2 lemons, garlic, herbs, olive oil, and seasoning to a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Serve the crispy artichokes with the cool dip on the side.

Blue Zone Balsamic Chicken with Mediterranean Salsa

Ingredients

For the Chicken

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, no added sugar
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

For the Mediterranean Salsa

  • 14-ounce artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 2 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, drained, rinsed, and chopped
  • ¼ cp kalamata olives, pitted, drained, and chopped
  • ¼ cup green olives, pitted, drained, and chopped
  • ¼ cup pickled red and yellow peppers, drained, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, no sugar added
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • ¼ cup Feta cheese

Ingredients

For the Chicken;

  1. Combine grapeseed oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Trim the chicken breasts if needed and slice into cutlets about ¾ inch thick. Place in a plastic or ceramic bowl and pour the marinade over the chicken. Combine to ensure the chicken is well coated. Cover and marinate for at least an hour, or best overnight. Grill the chicken (or sauté) the chicken breasts until fully cooked, or no longer pink at 165 degrees.

For the Mediterranean salsa;

  1. Combine the artichoke hearts, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, peppers, and parsley in a medium-sized bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil and balsamic vinegar. Pour over the salsa and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

To serve the dish;

  1. Arrange the chicken on an oven-proof platter. Spoon the salsa over the top of the chicken. Garnish with crumbled feta. Warm in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes if desired, or it can be served cold!!

Serves 4.

Add Pasta to your Spinach Artichoke Dip for,

Spinach Artichoke Dip Pasta

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces whole-wheat pasta, your choice
  • 1 (5 ounce ) package baby spinach, chopped
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks
  • ¾ cup reduced-fat milk
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ -1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, according to taste
  • 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, rinsed, squeezed dry, and chopped

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to directions, drain.
  2. Combine spinach and 1 tablespoon water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Add cream cheese and milk to the pan, whisk until the cream cheese is melted. Add Parmesan, garlic powder, and pepper, cook, whisking until thickened and bubbling. Drain as much liquid as possible from the spinach. Stir the drained spinach into the sauce, along with artichokes and the pasta. Cook until warmed through, top with additional shredded Parmesan cheese.