Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Quinoa stuffed Artichokes


I started out this evening thinking that I definitely wanted to do a stuffed artichoke. In keeping with my attempt to keep these recipes health conscious and full of vitamins, antioxidants and protein, I switched out the breadcrumbs with quinoa and rice. For those of you who are unfamiliar with quinoa, it is an ancient grain-like seed pronounced keen-wah that originated in the Andes region of South America. Good ol' wikipedia informed me that it is more closely related to beet, spinach and tumbleweeds than wheat and oats. It is a protein powerhouse and unlike wheat or rice it is a complete protein, making it a great option for vegetarians.

This recipe is for two but easily translates to four. Start boiling a pot of salted water, by the time you are done preparing the 'chokes the water should be good to go. Trim the stem off the artichoke, making sure it is level to stand up in the pot. Pull off the smallest leaves bordering the stem and cut about 3/4" off from the top of the leaves. With culinary scissors, cut the thorny tips off of the remaining leaves.

Your water should be boiling now. Drop in the artichokes. Lovely Lady Julia Child recommends putting cheese cloth over your cut tops while they boil to keep the tips moist. Who has cheese cloth anymore? Luckily for me, my roommate the cleaning elf keeps us well stocked in paper towels. Solution achieved! Boil those little suckers for about 15-20 minutes.

Start your quinoa. I bought boxed quinoa from Whole Foods, omitting the season packet, and followed the old directions on the box. As that starts cookin', I chose this opportunity to chop up half a white onion, 6 cloves of garlic and 2 rosemary stakes. I tried chopping this all up pretty fine since we are shoving it between the artichoke leaves. Of course that means more face time with ol' Onion butt. I cried a ton, still not hard core enough.

Pull the leaves off of about 4 thyme twigs and put into the mix. Add some freshly grated Parmesan, I think I did about 1/4 of a cup, and salt and pepper. These ingredients are familiar right? Yup, leftovers from our soup last night back for another special engagement.

Check on those 'chokes and quinoa. If you are anything like me, that little onion crying fit put you back a tad. Careful not to let the quinoa burn. That sucker goes from soupy and sad to sizzling and married to the bottom of your cheap Ikea saucepan you got when you graduated.

So the artichokes are tender and have darkened in color. Pull them out with those tongs and bring them over to the cutting board! Burnt myself a lot on this step. I figured out kinda late in the game that you should keep the tongs gripping the body of the 'choke and use a spoon to spread the leaves gently out, blossoming into a flower. Once I spread the leaves out and revealed the center, I took the tongs and got the thin inner leaves out. You'll notice some furry business in the core there, that's the choke. Remove the choke with the spoon. I had to really get in there to get it. Which was a pain since the leaves start to fall off of the body if you are too rough with it, another reason for the tongs. Now I had a steamy artichoke with the center hollowed out like a bowl.

At this point the quinoa was done. I gave it a quick fluff and threw it in with the Parmesan and onion mix. Tossed some olive oil in there and started stuffing the mixture into the cavity. Then stuff mix between as many leaves as possible. Put the stuffed artichokes into an oven safe dish that keeps them firmly wedged against each other. Before you preheat the oven, move the racks so that you can fit your dish nicely in the center of the oven. Throw the dish in there with a bit of water and olive oil in the bottom, about an inch.

I baked it for about 15 minutes while my roomie cooked up some salmon burgers and polenta from Fresh and Easy. Pulled the artichokes out when they were a tad roasted on the tips of the leaves and sprinkled a bit more Parmesan for garnish.

I was skeptical, having thought this up on my own, but it was great! Bit too much garlic, I recommend cutting the amount in half. What was really surprising was how filling they were. Next time I think I'm making it a main dish with a Greek side salad.

2 artichokes
1 small white onion
olive oil
box of quinoa or couscous
1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan

culinary scissors
baking dish
knife- serrated is good
paper towel ripped in half


Gary said...

Not a huge fan of the artichoke, but your pictures are great. Make them so so inviting!

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