Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Artichokes With Creamy Garlic Lemon-Pepper Dill Sauce - Low Calorie, High Fiber, Vegan and Gluten Free

Dip steamed artichokes in this delicious, creamy dill sauce.
Serve as an appetizer or in place of the salad course.

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I treasure the artichoke. Had I not grown up eating them, I probably would have no idea what to do with this thorny vegetable. But thankfully, artichokes have been a part of my life since I had enough teeth in my mouth to bite the delicious meat off of each succulent leaf. 

They are not only delicious but they are a very healthy food. One medium artichoke is only 64 calories yet has a whopping 10 grams of fiber! Artichokes have been shown to reduce cholesterol and stimulate the production of bile which helps in the digestion of fats. This wonderful vegetable also contains the flavonoid silymarin which protects the liver (and is also great for hangovers). Artichoke leaves also contain the phynutrients rutin, quercetin and gallic acid which all have powerful antioxidant properties.

Dill Weed
Fresh dill pairs perfectly with garlic, lemon and black pepper in this flavorful dip. By using a silken or soft tofu as a base, this creamy dill sauce is dairy and gluten free.

Fresh dill weed

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Artichokes with Garlic Lemon-Pepper Dill Sauce
Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes 4 servings]

4 medium artichokes
14 oz package silken or soft organic tofu
2 teaspoons chopped garlic, (2 small cloves)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh, dill weed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Prepare the artichokes. Pull off any small leaves near the base of the artichoke. 
With a sharp knife, cut off the tops (about an inch or so). 
With a pair of scissors, cut off the thorny tips of the leaves. 

Trim thorny tips of leaves.

If the artichokes are really big, (they seem to be growing them larger and larger lately) you can cut them in half, vertically. Most artichokes can be left whole.
Trim the bottom of the stem or remove it, peel it, and cook it with the artichokes.
Clean the artichokes by rinsing them under cold water.
Place artichokes in a large pot with about 2 to 3 inches of water and a steamer basket.  Bring to a boil, cover and cook until the outer leaves are tender and easy to remove. Add more hot water to the pot as needed as the cooking time could be as long as 45 minutes to an hour.  Start testing outer leaves after 30 minutes.

While the artichokes are cooking, prepare the dipping sauce.
Place the remaining ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

This also makes a great salad dressing if you add a touch of extra virgin olive oil or cold pressed hempseed oil or, for a low fat dressing, use as is.

Divide the sauce into 4 ramekins. Place each ramekin on a plate with one cooked artichoke and serve.

For another presentation idea, remove all the cooked leaves and place them in a circle. Clean the artichoke bottom and place in the bottom of the ramekin. Place the ramekin in the center of the plate.

Place the sauce over the artichoke bottom in the ramekin. When you are finished dipping the leaves, eat the bottom (which I consider the BEST part of the artichoke).

A presentation idea

Per serving: 128 calories, 4 g total fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 288 mg omega-3 and 1,930 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 10 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 11 g fiber and 371 mg sodium.

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