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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Simply Artichokes

Artichokes have a naturally intimidating factor: most people regard them as ugly. Others claim they stink when cooked. And then there are those awful stickers at the end of the leaves. What most people don't realize is that this vegetable is super nutritious! It has the highest amount of fiber out of any vegetable, out weighing broccoli with a stupendous 10.3 grams of fiber per serving! Besides being chalk full of fiber these wicked little guys are also packed with vitamins and minerals including:Potassium (about 400mg), Magnesium, Vitamin C, and Protein!
If the smell doesn't scare you off then you will soon realize that there is an artichoke lover in us all, it's just a matter of preparation and what you decide to pair it with. For some, depending on your palate, an artichoke is an acquired taste. But don't worry, I have preparation and pairing tips for both the daring and the hesitant!
Wash your artichokes thoroughly allowing the water to reach in between the leaves. After drying you can start by pulling off the outer-most leaves until you reach about one-third a way up the vegetable. Next, place the artichoke on a cutting board and cut off 3/4 of the stem. Both the leaves and stem can be thrown away. Placing your hand on the bottom of the artichoke to keep it steady cut off the top portion of the veggie- only 1/4 of the actual artichoke! This prevents you from being poked by a sticker during your meal. Now place it in a steamer for about 45 minutes. * Note: an artichoke can be steams, boiled, or baked depending on what you enjoy best. Cooking times may vary.
Artichokes pair beautifully with several ingredients:
Before placing your artichoke in the steamer slather it with garlic seasoning, salt, lemon juice, and butter- don't be scared to be generous: the more there is the better the taste! Next place some butter (about a half stick) in a sauce pan and add a little of each of the the latter ingredients. Butter makes for a great dipping sauce for the leaves of the artichoke.
A perfect pair with your veggie dinner would be garlic, oregano, thyme buttered and baked bread topped with yummy Parmesan cheese.
Another great sauce with your dish would be a light marinara sauce. This sauce is wonderful for the less seasoned artichoke veteran. It allows for the magnificent texture of the artichoke to come through all the while balancing harmoniously with the rich and buttery flavor that is natural to this vegetable.
And remember, the extravagance of this dish is even more tempting when you consider the abundance of nutritious value included.

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