Happy Healthy Blogger Thursday!
This week I want to introduce you to Susan from The Wimpy Vegetarian. I met Susan through the love blog hop and I really love her sense of balance in her cooking and her diet. You will see how she got her name ‘the wimpy vegetarian’ below and let’s just say I could be called a lot of similar names: wimpy vegan, wimpy clean eater, wimpy wheat-free girl.
Susan does an awesome job of creating healthy recipes that feature seasonal items. And for me, anyone who is willing to tackle artichokes can never be wimpy. I am terrified of them but Susan makes it sounds so easy that even I can’t wait to try this recipe. I mean, after stinging nettles, thorns aren’t so bad, right?
Without further adieu….
Hi everyone! My name is Susan and I blog at The Wimpy Vegetarian . I’ve tried to go completely vegetarian more times than I can remember and have finally settled into a balance of being mostly vegetarian, with fish and bacon occasionally thrown into a dish for flavor or balance. Try as I might, I may never be able to kick bacon out of the house. And it doesn’t help that my husband is a “carnivorous maximus”.
The biggest benefit of all my attempts at vegetarianism is that my diet today includes significantly more fruits, veggies and grains than ever before, and I’ve been able to be 80% vegetarian without much effort at all. But one night at a dinner party, as I was helping myself to a bite of meat from my husband’s plate, a table partner blurted out ‘you’re a WIMPY vegetarian!’. And so I am.
A couple of months ago, I wrote about finally seeing little artichokes growing in my garden. Well I’m here to tell you we had a bumper crop of seven (!!) artichokes by the time my two happy plants were done for the season. I couldn’t wait to harvest the first one, so it didn’t get quite as large as the other ones did. But eventually they were all harvested and enjoyed.
It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again, there is something so grounding, excuse the pun, and satisfying about growing something that puts food on the table for you and your family. And there are few things quite as dramatic as seeing an artichoke rise, torch-like, above the leaves on a thick, strong stalk.
One of the many ways I like to serve artichokes is to simmer them in acidulated water until tender. Then I hollow out the thin, small leaves and choke to form a receptacle for anything from a dip to use with the leaves to a grains salad. I flavor the acidulated water with white wine, lemon, thyme and garlic to eliminate the need for a dip, so I more often than not will fill the hollowed out center with a quinoa, farro, or Israeli couscous salad. And it’s perfect for entertaining since you can cook the artichokes and make the grains salad in advance, chilling everything until you’re ready to serve.
Artichokes Filled With Citrusy Israeli Couscous
6 cups water
2 cups white wine
2 teaspoons salt
10 whole peppercorns
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
juice from 12 lemon
3 bunches of fresh thyme (about 10 stems worth)
Citrusy Israeli Couscous
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 cup Israeli couscous
2 cloves of garlic, minced
14 cup diced dried apricots
2 tablespoons yellow raisins
14 cup thinly sliced green olives
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Making the Artichokes:
- Combine all of the ingredients for the Artichokes except the artichokes in a large heavy pot large enough to sit the artichokes on the bottom, facing up. I use a Le Creuset for this, and it works perfectly.
- Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Trim the artichokes by cutting off their stalks so they will sit upright in the pot; cut off the top 1 – 1 12 inches flat across. Using kitchen scissors, snip off the points of each leaf. They may have thorns, the artichoke is in the thistle family, so be careful.
- Place the artichokes in the acidulated water. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until you’re able to easily pull a leaf off, and the ‘meat’ of the leaf is soft at the base where it was attached to the bulb. The amount of cooking time will depend on the size of the artichokes.
- Remove from the pot and allow to cool enough to be able to handle them. Pull out the small, thin leaves in the middle of the artichoke, and using a spoon (I use a grapefruit spoon with serrated edges), gently scrape out the choke at the bottom to reveal the bottom of the artichoke. I do this by teasing the hairs of the choke away from the outside edge where it meets the first row of leaves with the spoon. Discard the choke, and fill the hollowed out area with the Citrusy Israeli Couscous.
Making the Citrusy Israeli Couscous
- Combine the orange juice and vegetable broth in a medium pot over medium – high heat and bring to a boil.
- Add the couscous, garlic, dried apricots and raisins, and simmer until the couscous is al dente, about 10 – 12 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom. If the liquid is in danger of boiling off, add additional orange juice if needed.
- Remove from the stove and toss with the olives and pine nuts. Serve warm.
Have you ever tackled artichokes? How do you like to make them?
If not, what are some vegetables that intimidate you?