Sunday, August 4, 2013

ABCs of Paleo: A is for Artichoke!

The "ABCs of Paleo" is starting off today! I've been a little absent over the summer with blogging. I'm typically someone who does well with a routine. With that being said, I thought it would be fun and engaging for you and motivating for me to create a weekly series around Paleo cooking. I came up with the "ABCs of Paleo" after seeing a friend and fellow blogger's "Meatless Mondays from A-Z." I'll be coming up with a unique ingredient each week (often times a couple weeks in advance) for each letter of the alphabet. You are more than welcome to join in on the fun by creating a recipe associated with the ingredient of the week. I'd love to link your recipe to my post each week. You can also post your dish in the comments of the weekly post. I will be posting on Sundays, so please send your links by Saturday night to ensure they're included. This will be an exciting journey. It may also be an opportunity to introduce you to a new food that you never thought to purchase or were intimidated about preparing. 

Without further ado, lets begin with the letter "A." As the title indicates, the first ingredient of our series is Artichoke. I'll be honest, I had never in my life purchased a fresh artichoke from the grocery store. This was a first for me. Here's a little background on artichokes. They are part of the thistle family. The edible part is the flower head before it blooms. Artichokes are quite nutritious, containing Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and fiber, along with numerous minerals. 

If you are like me, then you've eaten artichokes before, but either they were canned/jarred or frozen. I've used artichoke hearts on pizzas, in pasta dishes (pre-Paleo) and in casseroles. I had never prepared a fresh artichoke. It turns out it's quite easy to do. I steamed my artichokes and then baked them in the oven. I made a creamy dip to go alongside the roasted artichokes. 

Roasted Artichokes with Creamy Lemon-Garlic-Dijon Dip
Serves: 6-8 appetizer portions

  • 2 whole artichokes
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper 

For the dip (makes about 1 cup):
  • ¾ cup raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 6 hours
  • 3 oz. fresh water (just over 1/3 cup)
  • Fresh-squeezed lemon juice from ½ lemon
  • 2 T. grass-fed butter or other fat of choice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T. nutritional yeast
  • 1 ½ t. Dijon mustard

To prepare your artichokes:
  1. Cut the stem off the bottom of the artichokes so they’ll sit flat. Also, cut off the top tip of the artichokes (this is a step that I missed, but think it’s a valuable one).
  2. Fill a large sauce pan with water.
  3. Add the artichokes and bring to a boil.
  4. Cover and reduce heat to medium and allow to steam for about 20 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 375°F.
  6. Drain the artichokes and place them into a baking dish.
  7. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly-ground pepper.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes.

To prepare the dip:
  1. Drain and rinse the raw cashews.
  2. Add cashews, fresh water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and Dijon mustard to a high-speed blender or food processor. Blend until creamy.
  3. In a small frying pan, melt the grass-fed butter (or other fat of choice) over medium heat.
  4. Sauté the minced garlic, stirring frequently so it doesn’t burn. It only needs to cook for a minute or so.
  5. Add garlic and butter to the blended mixture. Blend again until incorporated.
  6. Pour into a serving bowl.

To eat:
Pull the leaves off the artichoke, dip in the sauce and scrape the leaves with your teeth to pull as much meat off the leaves as possible. The further in you go, the more meat will be on the leaves and the more tender they’ll be as well. Once all the leaves have been removed, pop out the “choke” (which is inedible). Then you’ll have the hearts left. The hearts are the best part. 

Fresh artichokes are a new ingredient to me. I would consider making them again in the future. I personally enjoyed the dip the best. I think the creamy dip would taste delicious mixed with chopped artichoke hearts. For now, I may stick with the jarred artichoke hearts for dips or casseroles. The whole artichoke was an interesting process. One objective of this series is to step outside our comfort zones and try something new. This was one of those times for me. 

Have you ever prepared whole artichokes? If so, how did you prepare them? 

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