Stuffed Artichokes

Artichokes are one of my favorite vegetables that I don’t eat every often. This time of year, the fresh artichokes are really delicious and wonderfully large, very stuffable. And the stuffing part isn’t set in stone – I usually use a chicken stew but I made one of my curried vegetable pies yesterday and thought, when I saw a beautiful big artichoke in the store this morning, that the leftovers would be great stuffing for that artichoke! So this one is vegan but any type of stew, preferably a creamed stew, will work as filling.

Serves 4. Prepare 2 large artichokes:

Using a vegetable peeler, shave the stem and cut off the very bottom, like cutting off the bottom of a carrot or onion. The stem of the artichoke is quite edible, tastes just like the heart. Then cut the stem off at the base of the artichoke so that it will sit flat in the pot. Some people cut off the top half of the artichoke but I don’t bother, a few spines on the ends don’t bother me but feel free. Place the artichokes and stems in a steamer over water and cook until the leave are falling away from the center. Remove from the steamer and let cool (trust me you don’t want to do the next step when the artichokes are boiling hot!).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. When the artichokes are cooled, fold back the leaves and remove the tiny center leaves to reveal the choke. Using a spoon, remove the choke trying not to break the outer leaves from the middle (but it’s okay if this happens, just lean the sections of the artichoke on the outside of the baking dish or against each other). It’s best to use a greased baking dish that is about the size of the artichoke, so for the 2 artichokes, 2 dishes are needed.

Dice the tender parts of the stems and add to the filling. For 2 jumbo artichokes, use about 4 cups of stew. SEE: Creamy Chicken Stew with Asparagus (leaving out the asparagus of course), Curried Vegetable Pie, Chicken or Turkey Pot Pie, etc. Top with seasoned bread crumbs – 1/4 cup gluten-free bread crumbs tossed with olive oil (or melted vegan butter or avocado oil) and herbs. Or if like me you have leftover curried vegetable pie, use the remaining crust as the topping (or cut out rounds of pie crust).

Bake in a 400 degree oven for about a half hour if the stew is cold, less if it’s already hot. And if topped with a raw pie crust, bake for about 40 minutes.

Penne with Chicken and Artichokes

I eat a lot of chicken. Probably out of my 21 meals a week, I eat chicken for at least 12 of them. So finding new and different ways to prepare chicken is something I never stop doing. My brother sent me a Barnes and Noble gift card for my birthday and I finally made it over there (now that I’m fully vaccinated) a few days ago and imagine how wonderful it was when I found The Chicken Bible, by the America’s Test Kitchen. A cookbook with 500 different ways to prepare chicken! I’m in heaven looking through this cookbook every day searching for a new way to make my chicken taste delicious. And this one is a definite winner. If someone needs to watch salt intake, skip the olives. Serves 4.

Cut into thin strips (or chunks if preferred realizing they’ll have to cook longer):

1 pound (2 large boneless breasts, split or 6 boneless chicken thighs – remove skins before slicing)*

Dry the chicken with a paper towel and sprinkle with:

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a medium Dutch oven, over medium high heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When hot add the chicken and cook, without stirring, until it starts to brown. Then stir and continue to cook until just about cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a bowl and cover. To the pot, add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

Cook until the onion is translucent then add:

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs (basil, oregano and thyme)

pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Cook about one minute or until you can smell the garlic then add:

4 cups chicken stock

Bring to a boil and add:

8 ounces gluten-free penne

Reduce heat to medium and continue on a slow boil until penne is al dente, about 6-8 minutes depending on the brand used. Stir frequently, sauce should reduce and thicken while the penne is cooking. Stir in:

6-8 ounces artichoke hearts, quartered (I used the vacuum packed ones available at Whole Foods but frozen will work just as well)

Cook an additional 5-8 minutes or until sauce sticks to the pasta. The sauce should be quite thick, not at all soupy (see example below). Add:

Chicken pieces

12 ounces of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size

1/4 cup kalamata olives (chopped)

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (Follow Your Heart makes a delicious vegan Parmesan already grated)

Cook until chicken is reheated, tossing the pasta lightly. Add:

1/4 cup chiffonaded basil leaves (roll the leaves into a log and thinly slice)

Toss the pasta once again to mix in the basil, taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed and serve.

This is not what you want, see the sauce on the bottom of the plate, too soupy!

This is what it should look like. See how the sauce sticks to the pasta.

*Whenever I need to slice chicken, if I’m using frozen chicken, I try to catch it when it’s still just slightly frozen because its much easier to slice when its partly frozen. If using fresh chicken, try putting it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes before slicing.

Quinoa and Wild Rice Stuffing (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, vegan)

My father and older brother used to spend the fall hunting birds such as grouse, pheasant, and quail.  All of these birds are quite small so none alone would make a meal for six people so my mother would save them up all fall and for New Year’s Eve, she would bake them with a wild rice and artichoke stuffing.  Here’s my version.  Serves 6-8.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup cooked wild rice (be sure to get just wild rice, not a wild rice mixture.  This took me some hunting but I did manage to find a small bag in my local grocery)
  • 2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 3 stalks of celery diced
  • 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms
  • 8-10 small baby artichokes, cooked (I used jarred in water and they worked fine) and quartered – if you can’t find baby ones, use artichoke hearts but trim the tops to remove any tough pieces
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 quart baking dish, greased
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil

Heat the oil in a medium skillet and add the onions, celery and mushrooms.  Simmer over medium heat until tender.  Add the rice and quinoa and mix thoroughly.  Pour into the greased baking dish and pour the vegetable stock evenly over mixture (if you prefer, you can use turkey or chicken stock instead).  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes uncovered.