Addictive Artichoke Gratin

February 22, 2010 § 1 Comment

I’m cozied-up on the sofa at home beneath a grey sky.  The heater’s humming in the background.  I have a seventh batch of candied citrus peels bubbling away on the stove and the house smells lived-in and fresh.  I’m in Regina-veg-out mode.

I’m recuperating: This past Friday through Sunday zipped by in a whirlwind of ooh-and-ahh Bellagio fountain shows, the best strawberry jam of my life, irritating casino music, back-to-back visits to a chocolate chop, a salon and a hotel with limp cucumbers and empty beer bottles on the patio and a beautiful wedding to boot!  Sadly, the Vegas-fun petered out a mere hour into our homeward bound drive when we got stuck at the Hoover Dam.  We crawled along the highway with the windows down for nearly two hours!  But, never fear, I made good use of the time…  While we inched, I recipe-planned!  And if I manage to make all the recipes I came up with in the car, I’ll eat approximately 5 meals a day for the next week and a half!

But!  Ta-DA!  I’ve crossed one recipe off my list and guys, there’s no better way to put it: this artichoke gratin is positively ADDICTIVE.  It takes no time to throw it together, either.

A few notes about this recipe: First, I prefer to make my own bread crumbs.  It’s cheap and a snap: I buy a 99-cent baguette from the store – often days or weeks before I intend to use it in a recipe – tear it into chunks and let them dry out on the counter for a day or two.  (If you’re pinched for time, simply toast 4-6 slices of bread in the toaster oven.)  Whirl stale/toasted bread in a Cuisinart or blender until the texture is fine.  While the Cuisinart is dirty, I often blend a few cubes of Parmesan cheese to avoid hand-grating.  I make bread crumbs (with or without the Parmesan cheese) in advance and store the crumbs in in the freezer.  It keeps wonderfully for at least a month and it’s convenient to have at-the-ready for a quick, mid-week dish.

Second, if you choose to use canned artichokes as I did, the artichokes are already soaked in a salty brine that lingers, even after a thorough rinsing.  The Parmesan cheese will add more salt to the recipe.  Because of this, I added no additional salt and I found it plenty seasoned.

Ingredients:
2 cans (15 oz.) artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth (in a pinch, use bullion)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup scallions, chopped (including the green part)
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons butter, melted & unsalted

Methods:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Prepare bread and cheese crumbs: Use stale or toasted bread and pulverize in a blender until finely ground.  Set aside.  Using the Cuisinart or blender, blend a few cubes of Parmesan cheese to yield approximately 1/4 cup.  (Eye-balling is fine here.)  Combine with bread crumbs.  Melt 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter on the stove or in the microwave.  Combine with bread crumbs and set aside.

2.  Rinse and drain artichoke hearts.  Chop in half.  Chop scallions and parsley and set aside.  Heat oil on medium in a brimmed pan and saute scallions until wilted (approximately 2-3 minutes).  Add artichokes and cook an additional minute.  Add vegetable broth and red pepper flakes and cook a few minutes until some of the liquid has evaporated, but not all.

3.  In a baking dish (I used 8″ x 8″) pile artichokes in the bottom of the pan.  Top with bread + butter crumbs.  Bake in the oven 10 minutes or until the top turns golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Diet Notes: Nut-free

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