Friday, January 4, 2013

Fresh Artichoke with Garlic Butter

I am seriously in love with fresh artichokes!  There is just something about them that hits the spot every time!  The first time I ever had them fresh was when I was in culinary school here in NY.  I know it's really sad.  After having moved here, I was so surprised by how many things I have never tried, or how many things I had these strange pre-conceived notions about.  I'm now wondering what it is that I really ate while growing up, besides all the fresh fruits and veggies from the garden.  Hmm...  Anyway, as soon as I tried an artichoke for the first time, I was amazed and couldn't believe how tiny the heart was, and what it took to get to it.  No wonder artichoke hearts are so damn expensive! 

The first time I brought them home for the Hubby was when I made one of my monthly trips to Trader Joes (it's just so far away from us!).  I usually avoid TJ's produce section like the plague because 99% of the time it is not very fresh.  And the thought of buying pre-chopped onions, celery, carrots, etc. is very nauseating to me.  I get that people are super busy living in Manhattan and nyc in general, but it takes 30 seconds, if that to chop a stalk of celery!  And maybe costs like 50 cents or less for the amount that they are charging $3.00 for.  I know, a little ridiculously impassioned, but I have always felt like that.  Anyway, when I discovered the artichokes in the produce department, I checked them over very very thoroughly and found them to be quite fresh, I bought 6 of them for like $3.50.  I steamed them and made a light dinner of toasted fresh baked baguette, sliced vegan cheeses, gourmet olives, etc.  I thought it was the most amazing, simple, delicious dinner.  Then I made a super simple vegan garlic butter to go along with the artichokes and presented it with a flourish.  I was very proud of myself!  And Hubby's reaction?  ...   Yum.  Give me some more, I'm still hungry.  There wasn't any more of course.  Then, that's it?  Oh man it was so good I want some more.  Next time I'll make all 6 of them and he can eat the remaining 5!

Steamed Artichokes with a Vegan Garlic Butter

2 fresh artichokes, bottom trimmed & pointy ends snipped with kitchen scissors

Garlic Butter:
2 tablespoons earth balance
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
sea salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
pinch black pepper

1.  Place a steamer basket in a medium sized pan.  Cover the bottom of the pan with water and place the trimmed artichokes on top of the steamer basket.  Cover tightly with a lid and steam until artichoke can easily be pierced with a fork, about 30-45 minutes.  Remove from pot and allow to cool for several minutes before handling.
2.  Prepare the garlic butter: in a small pan over medium heat, add the oil and earth balance.  Once the earth balance melts, add the minced garlic and cook until golden.  Immediately remove from the heat or it will burn - it will still continue to cook even once the heat is off. 
3.  Add the salt, parsley and black pepper and season to taste.
4.  To eat, remove each artichoke leaf and dip in the garlic butter.  Use your teeth to scrape off the "meaty" portion on the bottom of the leaf.  Continue with the remaining  leaves.  Once you get closer towards the center, the majority of the leaves can be eaten almost in their entirety.  Once you reach the very center, the artichoke heart, it will be protected by a group of fine hairs.  You cannot eat these.  Use a spoon to scoop out all of the hair, leaving behind the heart.  This is the best part, so dip it in the butter and thoroughly enjoy!



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