Thursday, March 12, 2009
Artichokes, My Favorite Vegetable
No celebration of the vegetable would be complete without my favorite food, the artichoke. My mother would stuff them with a breadcrumb mixture and steam them until they almost fell apart. Eating them was a learned skill – one that is taught to Italian children at a young age. First you gently scrape each leaf between your teeth enjoying the artichoke leaf and filling together. When the leaves are finished, you lightly salt and eat the bottom after removing the “choke”. Then there is the game of trying to get others at the table to give you their stems and bottoms (the most coveted parts of the artichoke). Ah the childhood memories! Sometimes my mother would wrap one up in foil and put it in my lunch box. Children would point and stare as if they had never seen one in their lives. I guess I should have felt embarrassed but any feeling of shame was surpassed by my sheer enjoyment of eating my very favorite food.
Artichokes are very high in fiber and provide a healthy dose of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate and manganese.
Italian Stuffed Artichokes
4 medium artichokes
1 cup of plain bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons parmesan cheese
4 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of black pepper
Holding the stem, cut the pointed top of the artichoke with a sharp knife. Then, with a pair of scissors, cut the tops of each of the remaining leaves by about ½ inch. Remove the bottom stem with a knife so that the artichoke can sit flat. Peel the stem and set aside. Wash the artichoke under cold water while slightly opening the leaves. Drain upside down while preparing the filling. In a small bowl, mix the bread crumbs, parsley, garlic powder, parmesan, salt and pepper. With a teaspoon, fill each leaf with a small amount of the mixture. Place 4 artichokes on a steamer in a large, deep soup pot with water coming up slightly above the bottom of the artichokes. Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil on each artichoke. Place the stem on top of each artichoke. Sprinkle a little salt over the stems and tops and steam for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until the leaves can be easily removed and the leaves are very tender. Add more hot water to the pot as the water level goes down.
Per serving: 233 calories, 7.5 g fat, 2.3 g saturated fat, 8.5 g protein, 33.5 g carbohydrates, and 11.3 g of fiber.