Slow food means a lot of different things. It’s a movement away from fast food. It’s eating food that is good for you, good for the people who produce the food, and good for the planet. It’s eating locally, sustainably, and seasonally. It’s also taking the time to sit down and enjoy a meal with each other. Food is one of the cornerstones of a culture – what do we want that to be? I’m really hoping the answer isn’t a fast food burger on the run but rather a meal prepared with care that is enjoyed at the table together. Granted we all occasionally need time to veg and decompress, but sitting down to a meal with someone at least a couple of times a week does wonders for the soul :)
I was lucky enough to have this important routine engrained in me at a young age and throughout my upbringing. (Thanks parents :) We always sat down to dinner together, and that made that time special – away from all the busy, distracting, stressful things in life. It’s a time to relax, talk, laugh, and enjoy food (and hopefully a nice little wine) together. Last week I had two things on my Friday schedule: picnic at Jazz in the National Sculpture Garden with friends and cook the artichokes we had in the apartment. It just had to happen, so we made the time to sit down to dinner on a Friday night. Make dinner with your roommate, your family, your significant other! Have a mini picnic with a coworker during the work day or a blow-out picnic on the weekend with all the fixin’s! Simply enjoy eating together.
The artichokes I did were inspired by a Food Network recipe I saw, but I just went with what we had in the apartment and ended up with quite the yummy new recipe! Everyone knows that the choke of the artichoke is the most annoying part, but once you do the work, scraping out all of those tiny little daggers, you are left with the best reward – the heart of the artichoke. Hmm, there’s a poem about that somewhere…
So I had never done it before, but I trimmed the artichoke leaves, and cut ‘em in half to cut out the choke before steaming them. Taking out the choke ahead of time is luxury! You’re left with all the best stuff of the artichoke, and a delicious filling to boot! This one had sun-dried tomatoes, olives, lemon, onion, garlic, and breadcrumbs. It would also be delicious with parmesan (alas, I didn’t have any) and/or capers. Do what you feel!
Here’s what I did:
*For two people as a main dish or four people as a side.
Preheat the oven to broil.
Cut off the tops with a big kitchen knife, and using scissors, trim the sharp points at the tip of each leaf of:
-2 artichokes (When buying, make sure the artichokes look nice and green and that all the leaves are held tightly together.)
Cut the artichokes in half length-wise, and using a paring knife and a spoon, cut/scrape out the entire choke from the center (the fuzzy-looking stuff in the middle if you’re not familiar. Careful – it’s like a cactus. Not cute and fuzzy, sharp and painful.) Either cut off the stems, or cut them back to the tender center with a paring knife.
Steam the artichokes for about 15-20 minutes. You know they’re ready when one of the outer leaves is easily removed and tender to eat.
While they’re steaming, chop and sauté until soft and golden (about 8 minutes):
-1 tsp. olive oil
-1/2 of a small onion (about a third of a cup before cooking)
-2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
Then mix together in a medium bowl:
-1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
-1/4 c. Mediterranean olives, chopped
-the juice of one lemon
-2 Tbs. olive oil
-the sautéed onion and garlic
-1/2 c. seasoned breadcrumbs
-1/2 tsp. pepper (and a dash of salt if you think it needs it, but I thought the tomatoes and olives did enough of a job there)
Once the artichokes are done, place them cut-side up in a baking dish, and stuff each one with the filling until you’ve used it all. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and bake under the broiler for 5-10 minutes until they’re nicely browned on top. Enjoy at the table together with a glass of wine!
*French phrase for fun: