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Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Most Misunderstood Vegetable

I give props to the person who first was brave enough to figure out that artichokes were edible.  I'm thinking it was a woman.  Guys just don't have that "Gee, this doesn't really look like food, but let's investigate" gene.  Women are selfless.  They are willing to poison themselves if it means keeping their families from eating something harmful or, God forbid, not delicious or worth the calories.  We also love to gloat when we're right.

"See, I told you it was food."

Having said all that, I must admit that I think artichokes, while tasty, are just way too much work.  And I don't like dealing with that furry stuff on the heart.  I think it's off-putting.  I do not need to de-fuzz my food before I eat it.  This is probably because I have only recently ridded the house of tennis ball fuzz, and when Kate returnes, even if just for a short visit, the yellow fuzz returns with her.

But I digress.  If you're looking for a shortcut, and who isn't, then frozen artichoke hearts are for you.  Yes.  You heard me right.  Frozen.

Now that you've gotten yourself up off the floor, let me tell you that Ina Garten even says frozen artichoke hearts are good.  As a matter of fact, she says they're one of the best frozen vegetables out there.  And if frozen artichoke hearts are good enough for Ina, then they are most certainly good enough for me.

Note:  I would not feel this way if say, Rachael Ray, was pushing frozen artichoke hearts.  Or Sandra Lee.  Or the Pioneer Woman.  I only feel this way because it's Ina, and she rarely takes a shortcut that involves something not purchased in a specialty food store.

Anyway, having established that frozen artichoke hearts are just fine, maybe even better than that, here's a recipe for roasted artichoke hearts.  These are nice on an antipasto platter, or as a side dish.  Either way, they're just delicious.

And, being resourceful, as we women (and my male readers as well) are, you can take full credit for having discovered that frozen is not only easy (perish the thought), but quite tasty as well.

Recipe:  Roasted Artichoke Hearts
Ina Garten


4 boxes (9 ounces each) frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 shallot, minced
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
5 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar, divided
½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
6 tablespoons capers, drained
2 jars roasted red peppers, sliced thin
½ cup minced red onion
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 pinches hot red pepper flakes (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the artichoke hearts in a bowl with ¼ cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and toss until the artichoke hearts are coated. Dump the artichoke hearts on a sheet pan and spread out into one layer; roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. Place the minced shallot, lemon juice, mustard, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process for 5 seconds. Add the basil leaves and process into a green puree. With the processor running, slowly pour ½ cup olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube until the ingredients are finely pureed. Set aside.

Place the roasted artichoke hearts in a bowl and toss with enough vinaigrette to moisten. Add the capers, red peppers, red onion, parsley, 4 tablespoons vinegar and red pepper flakes (if using), and toss gently. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and let stand for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.

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