Tag Archives: artichoke hearts

A Very Grill Worthy Side: Artichoke and Mushroom Pilaf

We are finally seeing a change in the weather. The humidity has left the building so to speak, chased away by rain and a more than welcome cold front. Stores are decked out for Halloween and Pumpkin Spice everything is invading earth as we know it. That means that Fall is just around the corner, at least according to the calendar.

Cooler weather doesn’t mean that the grill is going into hibernation. Far from it. These are the evenings that were made for grilling. You can keep your grilling food company outside without breaking a sweat. That little bit of coolness in the air makes me think once again of comfort food. While I’m not ready for hearty casseroles and soups, a bit of a starchy and filling side dish is just what Mama D ordered. That’s how this little gem came to be.img_2319

I have taken some short cuts in the interest of time (school is back in session and so am I). I used one of those cooked rice pouches. These are surprisingly good when mixed with vegetables and seasonings. They have a firm texture meant to soften in the microwave, but when used on the stove with a flavorful liquid, the result is perfect al dente rice. There are several brands out there and they come in various flavors. I used a Long Grain and Wild Rice package. It had a little added flavor of its own without being too unhealthy, but I added a good amount of fresh thyme and homemade chicken stock for more personalized flavor.

You are more than welcome to cook your rice from scratch. If you do, cook it early in the day and let it chill out uncovered in the refrigerator for a few hours. This allows the rice to dry out resulting in more flavor absorption and less mushiness. 

The vegetable array consisted of artichoke hearts (Trader Joe’s Frozen), crimini mushrooms, and shallot. Then there was that generous handful of garden thyme….img_2325

The veggies sautéed in a skillet with a bit of olive oil and several splashes of chicken stock. When everything sported a late summer golden tan, I added the rice. and the thyme leaves. Then it was just a matter of letting everything get better acquainted while being plied with more chicken stock.img_2333

All of this took about as long as the chicken breasts needed to grill. The plate was finished with sautéed green and wax beans with baby carrots. Simple to make, quick to get ready and delicious to eat.img_2337

Artichoke and Mushroom Rice Pilaf
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This recipe uses a package of pre-cooked rice. you could cook your own, but do it early in the day and let it chill before adding it to the vegetables. Use any type of rice that you like. You could even do this with quinoa, farro, or barley.
Servings
3
Servings
3
Artichoke and Mushroom Rice Pilaf
Print Recipe
This recipe uses a package of pre-cooked rice. you could cook your own, but do it early in the day and let it chill before adding it to the vegetables. Use any type of rice that you like. You could even do this with quinoa, farro, or barley.
Servings
3
Servings
3
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Swirl the olive oil into a large heated skillet. Allow the oil to get hot. Add the artichoke hearts, mushrooms and shallots to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until everything is lightly browned and tender. Add a little chicken stock if things seem too dry.
  2. Squeeze the package of rice to break it up. I used a Long Grain and Wild Rice Blend, but brown rice or any other grain would work. Open the package and add the rice to the skillet.
  3. Remove the thyme leaves from their stems by sliding your finger from the top to the bottom. Add the leaves to the skillet
  4. Toss to combine the ingredients and use a wooden spoon to separate the rice if necessary. Cook over medium heat, adding the chicken stock as needed. You want things to move around easily and to be a bit juicy.
  5. Continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the rice is tender and the flavors are well blended. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. drizzle with a little olive oil.
  6. Serve with grilled meat, poultry or fish.
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As I write this it is a lovely afternoon, perfect for a walk, which I intend to do shortly. Enjoy this wonderful change in the season and give a hearty side dish a whirl.

 

 

Supper From the Grill: Linguine with Sausage and Artichokes

Pasta isn’t food that takes very kindly to the grill. It does however, make a wonderful base for sauce ingredients that can be grilled. This easy and delicious dish features sausage and artichoke hearts grilled to perfection and tossed together to create a sauce that any plate of linguine would be proud to wear.

The ingredient list isn’t long or exotic. Just a few quality items that are relatively easy to procure.IMG_2004

I love linguine. I love how it cooks up, I love how it twirls on my fork and I love how when perfectly cooked “al dente” it feels in my mouth. I used an Italian Sausage from Ream’s, a local meat market and butcher shop known for its sausages of distinction. The artichoke hearts came from Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have fresh baby artichokes or the time to prepare them, this is a great alternative. The rest of the ingredients have appeared so often in Mama D’s Kitchen that they need no introduction. Onions, garlic, olive oil (Mama D’s Trinity), and red pepper flakes all make their presence known.

We all love those marinated artichoke hearts. You know the ones. They come in those cute little jars and are perfect on a relish tray or in a salad. Tasty as they are, they would fail the “Can you grill it?” test woefully. Frozen artichoke hearts, especially the ones that T. J’s. sells, are nice, big, firm, quarters that can be cooked and will still be  identifiable as artichokes. So, I went about making my own marinated artichoke hearts, I added some sliced onion and red pepper flakes along with garlic, white balsamic, and olive oil. I once again called on my trusty McCormick Italian Herb grinder to lend an air of herbal authenticity. Once everything was tossed together, I let them get happy in the refrigerator for the better part of a day.IMG_2009

A nice thing about this sauce is that the main components can be cooked ahead of time. A nice thing about having a small grill on a small balcony, is that I can sit and enjoy the sights and sounds of summer while I grill. I can even enjoy a glass of wine and pleasant conversation with Papa D . IMG_2015My marinated artichokes became something magical in the grill basket. Lightly charred and completely recognizable they waited for their moment of glory. The sausage also came to life on the grill. They had just the right balance of fat to stay plump and juicy without the aid of a fire extinguisher. Sometimes there is no substitute for quality.IMG_2018

While the pasta cooked, I sliced up the sausage and added it to an  olive oil coated skillet along with the artichoke hearts. Everything developed a little more golden goodness before a splash of dry vermouth and several ladles of pasta water made just the right amount of “sauce”. IMG_2020All that was left to do was add the pasta and some torn fresh basil. Moments later it was ready to grace our bowls.IMG_2026

The bowls of goodness were garnished with a little Pecorino Romano and the lightest drizzle of olive oil. This was a supper fit for company, but we were the lucky ones who got to partake. And that we did. We ate it all and didn’t even feel guilty.IMG_2033

Linguine with Grilled Sausage and Artichokes
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Servings
3
Servings
3
Linguine with Grilled Sausage and Artichokes
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Servings
3
Servings
3
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Combine the artichokes, onion, and garlic. Place the olive oil, vinegar, pepper flakes, and Italian herb blend in a container with a tight fitting lid. Cover and shake until well blended. Pour over the artichoke mixture toss well. Refrigerate, covered for at least 4 hours.
  2. Heat a grill to medium high heat. Add the sausage links and cook, turning frequently until well browned and cooked through. Remove from grill and allow to cool before slicing .
  3. Heat a grill basket over medium high heat. Spray well with cooking spray. Add the artichoke mixture . Grill, tossing frequently until the mixture is golden brown. This should take about 10 minutes or so. Remove from grill.
  4. Cook the pasta according to the package directions reducing the time by a minute or two. Prepare the sauce while the pasta cooks.
  5. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Add the sliced sausage and the artichoke mixture to the pan. Cook tossing occasionally until everything is heated through and has become a little more golden.
  6. Add the vermouth to the pan and stir to deglaze. Add several ladles of the pasta water to the skillet and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet along with the basil, tossing to combine with the sauce. Cook for another minute or two and remove from the heat.
  8. Place the mixture in pasta bowls and sprinkle with the Pecorino. Drizzle each serving with a little olive oil and it is ready to eat.
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There you have it. Easy, kind of quick, and ever so tasty…give this one a try before grilling season is but a memory. If you’re anything like Mama D’s Kitchen however, that grilling season never ends.

A New Year…A New Project…A New Pasta

We are already a week into the new year. I’ve decided that I want to challenge myself to be more mindful of the food I create this year. I know that every dish that I make doesn’t need to have its own moment as the star of a post, but I thought that I would try to catalog each dish that I create with a picture and a brief description. I will admit that this is partly to help me keep track of what I make, my memory, after all, isn’t getting any younger. You need have no fear of being overwhelmed with posts because I will only be sharing some of them in detail.  Bear with me this first week, I’ll share several of the plates that graced our table and yes, there will be a recipe (just one) at the end.

We started the year off with what I think was a wonderful NYE dinner. Yes it was technically 2015, but I wanted to set the tone for the coming year and no it does not mean that we will eat like this on a regular basis. We had Surf, and Turf, and Turf.IMG_0998

A small lobster tail, a bacon wrapped filet, and a lamb chop all were grilled to perfection by Papa D. Proscuitto wrapped asparagus and sautéed grape tomatoes completed the plate. We said goodbye to the old year with full and happy stomachs….

With the meat feast behind us we entered into the new year. Continuing on the theme of healthy vegetable forward meals, I turned 8 ounces of pork into  colorful kabobs that  were as tasty as they were healthy. Peppers, onions, yellow squash, and potatoes were marinated and grilled before they came to rest on a bed of sautéed spinach.IMG_1012

I plan to keep “Meatless Mondays” on the menu. I may even throw in a Meatless Wednesday or IMG_1033Thursday from time to time. Our first Monday Minus Meat was a pasta dish that featured Artichokes and Cannellini Beans with Whole Wheat Rotini. I started with a can of whole artichoke hearts. I prefer these because they hold together better than the quartered variety and you can cut them to the size that works for you. In this case, I quartered them (ironic, huh?) before I browned them in a skillet with olive oil. Frozen hearts are another good option, but unless you are near a Trader Joe’s, you may not find them. Of course, if you can find fresh baby artichokes that would be wonderful…I didn’t have any luck with that, either, but I did have the can of hearts in the pantry.

Mama D’s Trinity went into the pan. This time the onions were red and the garlic was sliced. I cut all the grape tomatoes that I had in half and added them to the pan along with the drained and rinsed beans. I added a generous splash of vegetable stock to keep everything lubricated. The sauce would later be bulked up with a cup of the pasta water. I added some red pepper flakes and fresh parsley to seal the deal. Then I let it rain Pecorino Romano Cheese.IMG_1043

This dish will feed two lavishly with enough left over  for someone to have a nice lunch the next day.IMG_1045

Pasta with Artichokes and Cannellini Beans
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Servings
3
Servings
3
Pasta with Artichokes and Cannellini Beans
Print Recipe
Servings
3
Servings
3
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions minus a minute or 2. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to a hot skillet. Place the artichoke hearts in a single layer in the pan. Cook until lightly brown, turning as needed, 4-5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and add the onions and garlic. Cook a few minutes until they soften and smell wonderful.
  4. Add the beans and tomatoes and toss to combine. Add the vegetable stock and cook for 4 minutes or so. If the mixture seems dry, add a little more stock.
  5. Return the Artichokes to the skillet. When the pasta is cooked, reserve one cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and add to the skillet.
  6. Add the pasta water, parsley and pepper flakes to the skillet along with the cheese. Toss everything to combine and allow to cook for another few minutes until the cheese has melted.
  7. Serve with more cheese to add at the table.
Recipe Notes

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The new year will hold many new adventures and many of them will happen in the kitchen. There will hopefully be a little travel, a lot of family time, and of course, lots of love.

Summer Vacation, Scarborough Farro, and Artichoke & Tomato Salad

Summer has arrived in Mama D’s Kitchen. I’m officially on Summer vacation for 3 whole weeks! Instead of rising before 5 every morning to get on a school bus, I can get up early (if I want) and do what I want. Morning walks, afternoon swims, puttering in the garden, and more than a little time with my grandsons. It also means that I have more time to spend in the kitchen and with the bounty of fresh produce around, inspiration is always arriving.

Once summer is firmly entrenched meals just naturally get lighter. Recently we feasted on Grilled Turkey Italian Sausage that was accompanied by a simple Artichoke and Tomato Salad and a riff on my Farro Risotto that I affectionately call Scarborough Farro.

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Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme, of course, feature prominently in this dish. If you haven’t listened to  Scarborough Fair lately, take a few minutes to go back to a time that was simpler, yet very complex. Superficially a peaceful song based on an old English ballad, it intertwines with an anti-war song not so subtly protesting the Vietnam War.

Farro has been cooking up in my kitchen a lot lately. I followed the same steps that I did for the Farro Risotto, cooking onion as well as garlic along with the uncooked  farro in some olive oil. I added some chicken stock and let it cook for a good 20 minutes.Towards the end I added my herbaceous quartet. These four herbs get along really well together with a sweet harmony much like Simon & Grafunkel. The best part was they all came from our garden.

Click on the link to the farro risotto recipe above. Once you’re there, do a few substitutions. Leave out the spinach and roasted peppers (though I think they could stay in if you like) and add a good 1/3 – 1/2 cup of chopped fresh herbs near the end of the cooking. My personal preference was to let the thyme and parsley take the lead vocal while the rosemary and sage provided the harmony. Make a blend that will sing your own song. 

Now to that Artichoke  and Tomato Salad:

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I used a can of whole artichoke hearts, I find that I get better pieces when I cut them myself. If you can find fresh baby artichokes, by all means go for it. They are hard to find in this part of the country, but if you do find them it will make this salad even more amazing. I used a combination of red grape and yellow cherry tomatoes, mainly because it’s what I had on hand. Sweet onion was the final component.

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I made a straight forward vinaigrette. I added just a touch of Agave Syrup. Since my dressings tend to be light on the oil, this bit of sweetness balances the acidity and creates a better texture. Everything went together early in the day so that when it was time for dinner everyone was well acquainted.

Artichoke and Tomato Salad
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Servings
3
Servings
3
Artichoke and Tomato Salad
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Servings
3
Servings
3
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Combine the artichokes, tomatoes, and onion in a bowl. Toss gently to mix.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Close tightly and shake until all of the ingredients are thoroughly blended.
  3. Pour the dressing over the vegetable and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (more is better).
  4. Serve with your favorite grilled meat, fish, or poultry.
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Summer is here and the Kitchen of Love is bursting with inspiration. I have lots of adventures to share with you and a memory or two as well, so keep tuning in.             Love, Mama D

 

 

Weeknight Wonderland – a Meatless Minestrone for Mondays and Beyond

Even though our nest is now empty, sitting down at the end of a day with good food,  good wine and good company is the best. I’ve shared my crazy split shift life before and how it impacts everything, even cooking. Just as I’ve learned to create in a small kitchen, I am learning to create dinner in stages, and weekends are my favorite secret weapon. A little time spent cooking ahead on the weekend eases the time crunch Monday through Friday.

This soup was a Meatless Monday dinner, but it got its start on Sunday. That’s when I thawed out some of my homemade vegetable stock. I heated my trusty soup pot and used  it to sweat onions and carrots in a little olive oil.DIGITAL CAMERASome Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, lots of garlic and a couple of bay leaves livened things up.DIGITAL CAMERAI added the thawed stock along with a can of fire roasted tomatoes and let everything get happy for twenty minutes or so.DIGITAL CAMERAOnce it cooled a bit, I stored it in the refrigerator until Monday night when I got home from work, An extra bonus here, the flavors had plenty of time to get well acquainted with each other at their sleepover in the fridge.

The vegetable medley that I chose included zucchini, green beans, and artichoke hearts. I decided to give the squash and hearts a little extra color so I lightly browned them. I liked the color it added and there was a richer depth of flavor that the quick saute imparted. I actually did this during my mid-day break so that they would be ready when I got home. The other late arrivals were a can of chickpeas and a little orzo pasta.DIGITAL CAMERAThe final cooking was easy peasy. Once the stock base came back to a simmer, I added the beans and pasta, followed shortly by the green beans, then the zucchini and artichokes. The whole process took about 20 minutes or so. I toasted slices of multigrain French bread and topped them with a blend of Italian cheeses. They made a lovely topping  for the soup.DIGITAL CAMERA

The short cooking time of the veggies kept them nice and crisp. I opted to cook the pasta directly in the soup. It added just the right amount of pasta to the soup. DIGITAL CAMERAIf you are going to make this farther ahead or plan on reheating it the next day, you may want to cook the pasta al dente in water, drain it and refrigerate it to add as the soup heats.  Pasta has a strong inclination to soak up as much liquid as it can hold, which is an amazingly large amount. What was soup the first time around becomes a much more pasta-centric dish after a day or two. I’m a “cook the pasta separately” kind of gal, but once in a while, I like to eat soup with a fork, but that’s me.

 

Meatless Minestrone for Mondays and Beyond
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Meatless Minestrone for Mondays and Beyond
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the tablespoon of olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the onions and carrots and a pinch of salt. Cook for several minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.
  2. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and the bay leaves to the pot and cook another minute or two, stirring frequently.
  3. Pour in the can of tomatoes, juice and all and the vegetable stock. Bring up to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook covered for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. At this point you can cool the stock and refrigerate until the next day. You can also complete the recipe at this time if you want.
  4. Coat a non-stick pan with olive oil cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the artichoke hearts and cook for 5 - 6 minutes or so turning once until lightly browned on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
  5. Repeat the above process with the zucchini slices.
  6. When you are ready to complete cooking the soup, (re)heat the stock to a simmer. Add the chickpeas ans pasta and cook for 5 minutes, stirring it once or twice.
  7. Add the green beans and cook for 4 minutes or until they are the amount of tender crisp you like.
  8. Add the browned artichokes and zucchini and simmer everything gently until it is all heated through. This should only take a couple of minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  9. Ladle into four soup bowls and top each with two of the toasted bead slices (recipe follows) and a drizzle of olive oil.
Cheese Toasts
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat the bread slices on both sides with olive oil cooking spray and place them on a foil lined baking sheet. Toast for 8 minutes, turning once. Top with the cheese and return to the oven set on broil and cook until the cheese is melted and slightly brown.
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By now you should know that this recipe is just a guideline. Change up the beans, the pasta, and the vegetables too, for that matter. If you have the time, the whole soup can be made in one day…just continue the cooking steps once the stock is done. Monday will be here before you know it (damn it), so give this a try. Hey, live on the edge and make it on Tuesday or Thursday.