Two weeks down on the “Lifestyle Program.” Thinking before I put anything in my mouth. Calculating “points.” 6.6 lbs down so far. Certain jeans getting noticeably (noticeable to me anyway!) baggy.
So let’s talk about artichokes. The stuffed, but skinny kind.
Some Ancient FoodBeest who must have been really hungry did us a big favor when he or she actually discovered the pleasures of the artichoke. A thistle, artichokes are covered with fibrous, sharp, pointy leaves. If you didn’t know, there is little about them to suggest that anything about them might be good to eat.
I love artichokes. They’re fun to eat. The contain something called cynarin that causes anything you eat directly after eating them to taste sweet. I think that’s cool. Sommeliers warn us that that quality often has a negative impact on the flavor of wine.
Artichokes take to various stuffings and love being eaten, dripping in butter- or mayonnaise. But as good as they taste, those sauces do not support the loss of 25 unnecessary pounds by June 6. So what now? How to eat – and enjoy -an artichoke?
Julie Rosso and Sheila Lukens of Silver Palate fame have my favorite recipe for stuffed artichokes in their The New Basics Cookbook. Artichokes take a long time to steam so that they have that soft, sweet succulent quality. This recipe cooks rather quickly in the microwave and makes a fast and pretty easy great lunch or first course.
This recipe adapted easily for The Plan. Basically, we replaced the melted butter in the original recipe with broth or stock. The FoodBeest’s adaptation is just 4 “Points Plus” for two artichoke halves – if you happen to be someone who is keeping track of that kind of thing.
What You Need to Make Stuffed But Skinny Artichokes
2 large artichokes
Lemon cut in half
1 C good chicken or vegetable broth or stock (homemade, canned or in the box)
1 small zucchini, grated (about ½ C)
¼ C dried bread crumbs (I used whole wheat panko)
¼ C Parmesan cheese
¼ C shredded part-skimmed mozzarella cheese
1 minced garlic clove
1 t dried oregano
½ t salt
Freshly ground black pepper (no, don’t use the pre-ground stuff that comes in a jar or can)
How to Cook Stuffed But Skinny Artichokes
Cut off the stems of the artichokes. Remove all the small leaves toward the stem. They’re unsightly and don’t have much meat anyway. Use a very sharp knife and cut off the top third of the leaves of the artichokes, leaving it with an open top. You will notice that some artichokes are reddish in the center and some are yellowish. Not a problem.
With a kitchen shears, rotate the artichoke as you cut the pointy tops off the remaining leaves. It just looks better this way. Rub the cut ends with lemon so they don’t oxidize and turn brown.
Arrange the artichokes upright on a microwave-safe bowl or plate. Pour in ½-cup of the stock and cover the plate tightly with a microwave-safe plastic. Cook for 12 minutes in the microwave (full power) until the stem end “gives” to a fork’s tines. Reserve the liquid in the dish.
In a small bowl, combine the grated zucchini, bread crumbs, Parmesan, mozzarella, oregano, minced garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix in the remaining broth from the microwave, plus another half-cup of stock or broth. [If you’re not trying to keep points/calories/fat grams down, use only an additional ¼-cup of the broth and add 2 tablespoons of melted butter.]
Now take that really sharp knife and, starting carefully at the stem end, cut the artichokes in half lengthwise. It means that you will have to cut through some of those very fibrous leaves in half and that can get messy. Remove the small, yellowish leaves in the center and scrape out the fuzzy part covering the heart of each artichoke (it’s called the beard).
Arrange the two halves on a plate, stem ends facing out. Fill each artichoke half with half the zucchini mixture. Cover loosely with the plastic wrap.
Pop it back in the microwave for three minutes. Let it sit quietly for another three minutes. Serve and enjoy.
By the way, this is good hot or at room temperature. I’m not sure I like it cold, but you might.
Oh, and a word of warning, if you have a food disposer in your sink do not put any part of the artichoke down in there or you will have a seriously clogged machine. Don’t ask me how I know, Fellow FoodBeest; just trust me on this.
Yield: 2 servings
Cook Time: 30 minutes