Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Have a Little Heart...

So, exactly what is an artichoke heart? I mean, after all, plants don't have blood coursing through their leaves or anything and the process that draws nutrients and water into the plant couldn't be compared to an animal's circulatory system. No, an artichoke heart is simply the inside of the base of the artichoke globe - the part that's left after you've pulled off all of the leaves and eaten the soft pulpy insides by scraping them between your teeth and removed the "choke"- that slightly fuzzy part covering the heart.

Artichokes are one of those vegetables that seems to intimidate some people, and I'll admit that I was in my late 30s before I had my first experience with eating one, but if you've never tried it, chances are good that you'll like it! If you're not sure how to prepare or eat an artichoke, the California Artichoke Advisory board has some great tips here.

Artichoke hearts are tasty when marinated or served with your favorite dipping sauce - but they also make a great addition to a variety of sauces, dips, and spreads.

I was searching through some recipes for something a little more decadent than the typical artichoke and spinach dip, and since we love shrimp here at home, I thought that this Shrimp and Artichoke Dip would be a perfect recipe to share on this National Artichoke Hearts Day! It's a Paula Deen recipe, so it's heavy on the comfort and the calories, but it can be decalorized a bit by using nonfat half and half (I know, that's kind of an oxymoron, but the stuff isn't half bad and the difference in fat calories is amazing) and substituting an egg substitute for the egg yolks. Extra virgin olive oil can be substituted for the butter as a healthier fat as well. Bon apetit!

Ingredients

1 (13 3/4 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 dash pepper
1 dash salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup sherry wine
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 lb shrimp, cleaned, peeled, and deveined
1/4 lb fresh mushrooms
3/4 cup grated Monterey jack and cheddar cheese blend (combined)
paprika

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Blend in flour to make a paste. Add half-and-half all at once, stirring constantly until thickened and smooth. Add Parmesan cheese, sherry, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Temper egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of hot mixture and add back to remaining cheese sauce. Set aside. Mix artichoke hearts, shrimp, and mushrooms together. Put in baking dish and pour sauce over top. Sprinkle top with grated cheese and paprika. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Serve with your choice of crackers, tortilla chips, pita chips, bagel crisps, or garlic crostini (my favorite!).

The following Etsy shops have been featured in this article - be sure to stop by and see all of the wonderful other goodies they contain!

Farmer's Market - Artichokes Photograph 8x10 - KBuchananPhotography
Artichoke Caponata 8oz. - BettysGourmetDelight

Oops, and before I forget - a happy birthday to our grandson Caden, who's turning 4 today! Love ya sweetie!

5 comments:

Kim said...

Oooh, thanks for sharing this, I love artichokes! Will have to remove the worcestershire & shrimp myself to make it vegetarian, but otherwise I can eat it & it sounds so yummy! :)

Splendid Little Stars said...

sounds so good!

Beth said...

I love artichokes!

TiLT said...

yum!
Took me quite some time until I appreciated artichokes also...still haven't been brave enough to buy one whole & work it myself :P

NICO Designs said...

I really like artichokes but wish I am so intimidated by trying to figure out to cok them myself. I will have to try thanks to this recipe.

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