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Steamed Artichokes with Garlic Aioli

Steamed Artichokes with Garlic Aioli

Steamed artichokes are another spring favorite food.  Along with asparagus and strawberries, this is one of the foods I recall being truly seasonal when I was a kid.  If you didn’t get a feast of all during a short time period in the spring, it was a long time coming to taste these again.  Now, of course, all are available year round, though as far as I can tell, they only truly taste good in season, in the spring and early summer.  We’re lucky here in the PNW that all three grow easily and readily and are available in both the grocery stores and at the farmer’s market.

Artichokes are a wonderfully messy food – they require some sort of dipping sauce to complement their meaty goodness.  I’m a fan of lemon juice, butter and garlic powder, as this is essentially the only dipping sauce I ever knew to accompany artichokes when I was younger.  This week, though, I decided to branch out a bit.  I’m a huge fan of the garlic aioli that comes with fried asparagus at Burgerville, the happy, local meat fast food place here in Oregon.  I thought it might be good with artichokes, so made my own variation.  This is a wonderful afternoon snack and I’m totally in favor of eating it at my desk, messy though it may be.  My only advice about this is to bring an ample supply of napkins.  The only thing that could make this better would be to be on a picnic, drinking white wine and lounging on the bank of a river.   Either way, enjoy!

four artichokes

 

Steamed Artichokes with Garlic Aioli
Serves Four

4 artichokes, stems trimmed and tips of leaves trimmed

Garlic Aioli
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of salt

Place a steamer basket at the bottom of a large saucepan.  Fill the pan with water up to the base of the steamer basket and bring the water to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, add the artichokes and cover, steaming for 30 to 45 minutes.  You can check the artichokes for doneness by pulling on a leaf – if it comes off easily, the artichoke is done. 

Garlic Aioli

Add all ingredients in a small bowl and stir until combined.

Serve the artichokes with garlic aioli on the side.

Roasted Artichokes

Roasted Artichokes

This week has been all about the easiest route to fresh, good food.  I believe in elaborate snacks at my lunch – the best way for me to get through the day is to have good food to look forward to. Given the time constraints this week, I didn’t have hours to prep this weekend.  I had a few vegetables languishing in the vegetable tray and I wanted to make sure I used them before they became compost.  One of those vegetables was a pair of sangria artichokes we’d picked up last week at Trader Joe’s.  I love artichokes – whether they are designer or not.  I’ll eat them, I’ll grow them and I’ll even let them go to full flower, because they are so lovely (in addition to being tasty).

artichoke_flower

But back to the sangria artichokes.  In addition to being a beautiful deep purple hew, these are named after sangria – and since I also love sangria, I figured the artichokes must be good.  I did a bit of research to find that these are a new kind of artichoke, coming exclusively out of California. I didn’t notice a particularly significant different taste, though they did roast up perfectly with all leaves being very tender.  I think they are just pretty – and what’s the harm in enjoying a pretty, in addition to tasty, snack at work?

sangria_artichoke

Roasted artichokes take about an hour, but the prep time itself is minimal.  I didn’t do anything to these to eat them other than toss on a bit of salt.  If you are going to eat these at work, be sure to have a spoon or knife with you to remove the fuzzy parts from the heart.

artichoke_roasted

Roasted Artichokes
Serves 2

2 large artichokes, stem trimmed and leaves gently spread out
1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place each artichoke in a large piece of aluminum foil (large enough to fully wrap the artichoke).  Before you wrap it up, drizzle the artichokes with lemon juice and olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt.  Wrap up the artichokes in the foil and put in a pie pan or on a baking sheet.  Bake for 75 minutes or until a knife can easily pierce the base of the artichoke.  Serve as is or with melted butter with garlic salt.

 

 

Roasted Fava Beans

Roasted Fava Beans

One of my most favorite spring vegetables is fava beans.  I distinctly remember first becoming aware of favas through reading my mother’s Martha Stewart magazines.  Martha uses lots of fava beans in her magazines and cookbooks and I often wondered what made them so wonderful.  I equally wondered where on earth you would find them fresh.  The farmer’s market I used to go to in Denver didn’t have favas, and then I spent several years overseas where so many fruits and veggies were a rarity, and then four years in New Mexico, where I ate lots of green chili, but no favas.

When I moved to Oregon, I found favas in a market an hour away from our home and greedily bought about a dozen.  I was then faced with the question about what, exactly, to do with them.  I have no idea where I found the very easy preparation of roasting fava beans with olive oil and salt, but it is so, so very easy and makes these somewhat complicated veggies very accessible.  For a very, very brief period of time, there was a farmer in my little rural town in Oregon who grew favas in the spring – I’d buy heaps of them and we would gorge ourselves on the roasted beans.  That farmer, unfortunately, decided it was more profitable to go to just one farmers market in the region in the early spring, so I was left fava-less for several seasons.

Now we are in the Portland area, and in a last resort, we can always go to Whole Foods and similar markets for produce.  I gasped with delight when I saw these the other day when we were out looking for greens for our salad.  I’m also hoping for favas to show up at the farmers market.

If you have thirty minutes, olive oil, salt and fava beans, you can easily throw these beauties together.

fava 2

roasted fava 2

Roasted Fava Beans
Serves 2

12 fava beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Put the fava beans on a baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Bake for 12 minutes and then flip the favas. Bake for another 12 minutes.  The favas should be soft and golden.

You can pull the beans out of the fava shells at this stage or eat the whole bean – shells and all.

 

Sweet and Salty Trail Mix

Sweet and Salty Trail Mix

The theme for me this week has been to keep it simple.  I’d been thinking about experimenting with trail mixes, especially as a prelude to spring and summer hiking, because despite the days and days and days (and days) of rain, I know spring has to be somewhere around the corner, right?  I saw the combination of cranberries and wasabi peas somewhere recently, and thought I’d give it a try.  I wanted a bit more sweet than salty, and the apricots fit the bill.  This is a great snack to parcel out into snack bags and keep handy in the desk drawer or school bag.

Sweet and Salty Trail Mix

Sweet and Salty Trail Mix
Serves 5

1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 cup dried apricots, cut into halves
1/4 cup wasabi peas
1 cup salted mixed nuts

Combine all ingredients in a jar.  Keep in an airtight container.

 

 

 

 

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