School Lunches

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Artichoke - beautiful to look at and to eat.... in cheesy dip sort of way

Artichokes are one of those vegetables that always catch my eye in the produce aisle. In fact, I've purchased them a handful of times only to forget about them or never decide what to do with them before they go bad and have to be thrown out. I've only had an actual artichoke one time before (probably 5+ years ago) but it was stuffed with tons of sausage, cheese, and breadcrumbs. Obviously, the artichoke-y taste was a bit masked so I've still never figured out if I actually like artichokes. 

Once again, I wandered down the produce aisle and couldn't resist. I picked up a few artichokes and couldn't wait figure out what to do with them. Honestly, I knew why I really wanted them. I wanted to photograph them. Something about the contrast of the deep purple hue next to the layers of green petals is beautiful to me. Not only the color, but the variation of texture. I figured even if I didn't like the taste, I would certainly still be able to capture its beauty. 

Check out that choke!

Still deciding what to do I figured I better at least clean it up and remove the choke. I wasn't incredibly inspired by any recipes, but I am am inspired to redecorate our living room green and purple. 

I finally decided I would keep it simple and steam them in the oven. I put them in a pan with lemon, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper then covered with foil. Baked at 400 for about 30 minutes.

Ehh... it was okay. But I wasn't overwhelmed. I tried to act excited to get my husband to try it but his response was "you just eat it like that?" followed by laughter in a "you've got to be kidding me" sort of tone. Then he suggested spinach artichoke dip. It seemed like a bit of a cop-out since I wanted to enjoy a real artichoke. But, frankly, I knew I wasn't going to eat any more so why not try to save it.

Since I only cooked one artichoke I didn't have enough artichoke heart for most of the recipes I found so I decided to just throw something together - cream cheese, parmesan, artichoke heart (and some of the meat I was able to scrape off), chopped baby spinach, and some of the garlic that I cooked the artichoke with. Then I threw some panko crumbs on top and popped it in the oven.

It was actually... delicious! Just as I was finishing up the doorbell rang. UPS! I wasn't expecting a delivery so that was extra exciting. (UPS=Santa for grownups). I ripped the package open in a way that could be mistaken for a five year old on Christmas morning. Inside I unwrapped a gorgeous serving tray made from a reclaimed wine barrel. Absolutely beautiful. It was only out of the package about 2 minutes before I had it setup for pictures. I think it will be getting a lot of use!

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