I keep seeing these gorgeous purple baby artichokes at my local fruit and veggie market. I am enamored by them, but I have no idea how to cook or serve. I’ve done some searching, and most of what I have found is how to use them as decoration. They make lovely tabletop pieces, as seen here in this Food Network story about Thanksgiving ideas or this suggestion from CasaSugar on alternative wedding bouquets.
Surely they must be more than a pretty face? Any suggestions on how to cook? Do you just steam them like regular ‘chokes and take tiny bites? Sounds unsatisfying… Help!
When it comes to trying to make foods a little bit healthier, I am game to sneak in some vegetables where they normally don’t dwell: Brownies with black beans, chocolate cake with beets, macaroni and cheese with cauliflower. So when I spotted this Jessica Seinfeld recipe for chocolate peanut butter pie, I had to to give it a go. Peanut butter and chocolate is one of my biggest weaknesses, and the fact that this dessert contained some pureed squash wasn’t about to slow me down.
It’s a refrigerator pie, no baking, just some some mixing and cooling. First, you make the crust out of graham crackers crumbs and a little margarine. (Or you could skip this and buy a ready-made.) Jessica suggests you use low fat graham crackers, but I had the regular ones handy.
Next, make the pudding base on the stove. Mix two cups of low-fat milk (again, Jessica is watching your weight and suggests skim, but I used one percent), 1/4 cup of corn starch, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, an egg and one egg white. Stir constantly over medium heat until it thickens. Then, stir in 1/2 cup of yellow squash puree (I used frozen, thawed).
Then, pour the chocolate mixture into the crust. Pour the peanut butter mixture into the center of the chocolate pool. The recipe says to chill to for two hours, but I’d do it longer than that.
The completed pie is not gonna win any ribbons: Mine never gelled and basically became a blob on the plate once served. But oh, what a yummy blob! It’s hard to stop eating, it’s so good.
Click here to see the full recipe for Jessica Seinfeld’s peanut butter pie.
Here are some other sneaky vegetable recipes.
I have a small repetoire of pasta dishes I create again and again. Most of those I love because they come close to recreating a pile of perfection I consumed in Italy on a trip long ago.
Well, I am trilled to share with you my new go-to pasta sauce: It’s called Roman Style Spaghetti, but it is basically an Amatriciana — tomato sauce with onion and pancetta (bacon). It’s so insanely simple, and it really does taste as good as the stuff I have had in Piazza Navona. My only tip would be to buy the best ingredients you can: imported tomatoes, real pancetta, and a good white wine. Here’s my take on this iVillage recipe.
Roman Style Spaghetti or Spaghetti all’Amatriciana
What you need:
1/4 cup of olive oil
a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
yellow onion, finely chopped
half a pound of pancetta, cut into small bits
1/2 a cup (or slightly more if needed) of a dry white wine
1/2 cup + of romano cheese
a generous toss of red pepper flakes
a pound of spaghetti
How to make:
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan until it is really hot. Toss in chopped onion and cook until translucent, about three or four minutes. Add pancetta and cook until slightly browned, about five minutes. Add white wine and allow it to bubble until the wine boils down, stirring frequently, for about ten minutes. While that is happening, boil water with salt for spaghetti, which you should cook al dente. After the onion-pancetta-wine sauce has thickened a bit, add the can of tomatoes. Flavor with red pepper flakes an salt and let it cook for at least fifteen minutes. If it cooks a little longer than that, it only gets better.
Once the pasta is cooked, return it to the pot and mix in with sauce until well coated. Don’t drown the pasta in the sauce — save what’s extra for the table. Add in the romano cheese. Serve with extra sauce, cheese and red pepper. If you have leftovers, you’re very lucky. It tastes better the next day.
A few of my other favorite pasta recipes:
It’s been a while since we cooked up a bubbling dish of cheesey yumminess. The last time I healthed it up a bit by using whole wheat noodles and cauliflower. I’ve always wanted to try this Jamie Oliver recipe — his “killer” — but the tomatoes have held me back. In my world, there’s tomato sauce or there’s macaroni and cheese, and never the twain shall meet. I finally brushed aside my restrictions and gave this a try. The results, I must say, were pretty killer!
What makes this dish so good is the extra dashes of flavor added to the base. You start with a lot of garlic — ten cloves. Also you’ll need some fresh herbs — Jamie calls for bay leaves and thyme. I didn’t have either so used some oregano and rosemary. A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce and a sprinkle of nutmeg complete the appeal.
I also made this recipe in a cast iron skillet and it worked out quite nicely.
If that doesn’t float your boat, try these from our archives:
Who hasn’t experienced that unfortunate party conundrum when one is forced to choose between a cocktail and a plate of hors d’oeuvres? My solution is to often to shove any offered food into my mouth so fast, that companions are left wondering why I am just smiling and nodding in silence. These finger food plates from perpetualkid.com attempts to solve the dilemma. The small plates slip onto your finger like a ring, creating a perfectly tiny perch for that little canape to rest while you speak your mind. At $10 for ten of them, I think they are worth buying just to as a conversation starter. (Warning, the fat fingered may be out of luck, they are one size fits all.) Click here for more info.