A peculiar pointy veggie not often found in the grocery store, nor prepared by the average home cook. Though it doesn’t have to be so! Artichokes are in season right now, so you shouldn’t have difficulty tracking them down. Get excited about spending some quality time in the kitchen exploring the underrated artichoke!
The variety most commonly found in our grocery stores is the globe artichoke, which is actually a type of thistle. The flowers of the plant grow as a bud between 3-6 inches in size with the edible heart and leaves. Commonly used in dips, sauces and other baked dishes such as lasagna and frittata, I personally love to put marinated artichoke hearts on homemade pizza!
Artichokes have an exceptionally high amount of antioxidants- more than just about every other vegetable out there! What more reason does one need to incorporate a little more artichoke love into their cooking repertoire? Well, artichokes have been shown to help gall bladder function, improve digestion and shift the balance of good to bad cholesterol in a favorable direction. One more interesting fact: Cynarine is a chemical found in artichokes that make water (and other foods and drinks) seem sweet without affecting the blood sugar. In addition to all that goodness, they’re delicious too!
So you’re convinced to start adding artichokes into your life, but you’re not sure how to do it? There are a thousand recipes out there for variations of the classic spinach & artichoke dip, but beware the often high calorie count of them. Marinated artichoke hearts can be purchased at any grocery store and added into salads, pasta or as mentioned onto pizza. Check out this great recipe from Delicious Living to introduce artichokes into your home!
Grilled Vegetable Paella
6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
3-4 Roma tomatoes
1 10-ounce package frozen
1/2 cup green beans
2 summer squash, sliced lengthwise
1 green or yellow pepper, halved
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, quartered and sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice or other medium-grain rice
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1. Prepare a fire in a kettle grill or preheat a gas grill to high.
2. Combine broth and saffron in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover; set aside.
3. Dice tomatoes. Slice artichoke hearts in half and cut green beans into 1-inch slices. Set vegetables aside in individual bowls.
4. Place summer squashes and pepper on grill. Cook for 45 minutes on each side. Leave pepper on grill until its skin is evenly charred. Remove and set aside until cool. Remove the charred pepper skin and cut pepper into 1-inch pieces.
5. Add olive oil to a paellera or large cast- iron skillet. Add onion and garlic; sauté 35 minutes or until slightly caramelized. Add rice to pan and sauté 12 minutes more.
6. Stir in a third of boiling broth mixture. Add cut-up peppers and squashes, tomatoes, salt, pepper and paprika. As broth is absorbed, add more until rice is tender. Add green beans and artichokes the last 5 minutes of cooking. Cover paella with a clean dish towel and let sit for 5 minutes.