Spring Artichokes with Dijonnaise Sauce
We are so fortunate in Santa Barbara to have numerous local, organic farmers. This gift brings with it several weekly, exquisite farmers markets. So we verge on being spoiled, yet how ironic that access to locally grown, natural food is an indulgence. Still, in many areas and for many people food of this nature is not necessarily available or affordable. Our local Food Bank of Santa Barbara (www.foodbanksbc.org) and our Organic Soup Kitchen (www.organicsoupkitchen.org) work with Santa Barbara's local farms to help feed and educate our community making it possible for more people to eat healthy, higher quality, nutrition-based food. To all of these farmers, volunteers, and organizations we are grateful.
In this newsletter we celebrate the artichoke. So simple to prepare, so delicious, so extravagant in some ways, and so beautiful. Originally native to the Mediterranean the artichoke is part of the thistle family and if allowed to go to bloom creates the most extraordinary vibrant, purple flower. The artichoke heads have some of the highest antioxidant capacities reported for vegetables, and studies have shown artichokes to aid digestion, liver and gallbladder function, and to raise the ratio of HDL (good cholesterol) to LDL (bad cholesterol).
Spring is a great time to give thanks for the riches and abundance coming forth from the earth. It's the perfect time to begin a backyard or container garden depending on your water resources. Eat your vegetables, and enjoy these beauties from the bounty of Mother Nature.
May Spring bring you its many blessings-- Tracey
2-4 large artichokes
2 lemons (zest of 1 lemon)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1.5 tsp. Dijon mustard
Tabasco sauce (to taste)
1/2 -1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic (optional)
pinch of sea salt
Clean artichokes well by spreading the leaves open under cold running water or in a bowl of water to remove dirt and grit. Watch out for the tiny spikes at the end of each leaf which you can remove by trimming before cleaning. Also, trim the stem so that the artichokes sit flat in the pot. Place in a deep pot or pressure cooker (my preference) with the appropriate amount of water depending on whether you are simmering or pressure cooking. Add sea salt to the water, then add 1/2 to 1 whole bay leaf depending on how fresh and strong the leaf. Place the artichokes in the bottom of the pot and squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the artichokes adding the lemon halves to the bottom of the pot. Throw in 1 clove of garlic (optional).
For 2-4 large artichokes pressure cook for approximately 12-14 minutes (simmering in boiling water will take a good bit longer). You could also split the artichokes in half and steam them if you choose.
When artichokes are done the leaves will pull away easily. Remove from the pot to cool down and serve warm or cool with the Dijonnaise sauce. Don't forget to cut the choke from the center and savor the gem of the artichoke--the heart.
Mix 1/2 cup mayo (regular or vegan) with 1.5 tsp. of Dijon mustard. Add the zest of 1 lemon, then squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon into the mixture. Add Tabasco to taste (start with 2 drops). Dip the base of each leaf and eventually the heart (cleaned of the choke) into the sauce. It's a little bit of heaven from the earth!