Grilled Globe Artichokes with a garlic & chili dressing
Our garden is resplendent with globe artichokes reaching out in all directions to fill up, if not choke, the skyline at the back of the house. They’re wonderful to watch ~ the heads, or globes, blooming and opening every time you turn your back, and then all of a sudden, you’ve lost the chance to harvest them! No matter, they become the most marvelous flowers and continue to bewitch insect wildlife for weeks to come.
Lots of people don’t know what to do with fresh artichoke globes but when in season, they’re one of the simplest and easiest vegetables to add to your diet, and in terms of their benefits, they’re great for assisting digestion and liver function.
Have ready 1 globe or head per person and a large pan of boiling water. Cut the globes in half, tip to stem. Plunge them immediately into the water and boil vigorously for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the dressing.
50 gms of butter melted; 3 garlic cloves, crushed; 1 red chili, finely chopped (remove seeds and pith if you want to lessen the strength of hotness); salt to season
Toss the garlic and chili into the melted butter and fry together for a minute or two. Set aside. When the globes are ready drain well. Place cut side up in a baking tray and pop under a hot grill for 2 minutes. Take out, spoon the butter, garlic and chili dressing over the heads and pop back under the grill for another minute. Serve immediately. Good as an appetizer or a starter.
The heart of the globe is the fleshiest and tastiest part, but each leaf has some flesh on it, so drag it off between your teeth then discard the rest of the leaf ~ very primitive and good fun! You don’t have to cut the globe head in half before cooking, but doing so simply reduces cooking time and makes for a great display. You can have any dressing too. Something buttery and piquant work well to bring out the flavours of the flesh.
Vegetarian Paella with sautéed tofu
Una receta fácil que se origina en España! Paella is an ancient Spanish rice dish that originated in its modern form in the mid-nineteenth century near Albufera lagoon, a coastal lagoon in Valencia, on the east coast of Spain. ‘Paella’ is a Valencian-Catalan word which derives from the old french word paelle for pan, which is also akin to the modern french poêle. Cooking and serving from a specialized shallow paella pan is all part of the theatre of the dish. In fact, the recipe became so popular that in 1840 a local Spanish newspaper first used the word paella to refer to the recipe rather than the pan! According to tradition in Valencia, paella is cooked over an open fire, fueled by orange and pine branches along with pine cones. Ummm, sounds as if it would smell divine!
Somewhere along the line of it’s history, saffron was used to colour the paella yellow. Here I’m using turmeric, one of Nature’s most powerful healers. It’s an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial and antioxidant. It’s a liver detoxifier, a pain killer and helps to metabolize fat. And it’s less expensive than saffron. Who wouldn’t use it?!
1 cup white rice; 2 cups boiling water; 1 tea spoon turmeric; good quality olive oil; a pinch of salt; a tea spoon of ground black pepper; 1 red onion, peeled, quartered & chopped; 200gm block of firm tofu, patted dry & cubed; 4 artichoke hearts, drained & sliced; 6 pieces sun dried tomatoes, chopped; 2 table spoons capers*; 1 table spoon pesto; 100 gms frozen peas; 100 gms sweet corn; handful of rocket; 5 fresh asparagus spears, blanched, or a preserved version, drained; juice of 1 lemon; 1 lemon, quartered
In a saucepan, bring the water to the boil and once boiling add the rice, stir, add the teaspoon of turmeric, stir again then cover and turn off the heat. Leave to cook and expand in the saucepan. In a large shallow paella pan (if you have one, or a frying pan if not), gently heat about 3 table spoons of olive oil. Season with the salt & pepper then toss in the red onion and tofu. Sauté for 5 minutes, tossing frequently to brown on all sides. Add all the other ingredients, except the lemon. Allow to simmer together for a further 5 minutes before adding the asparagus and lemon juice. Turn off the heat. Push all the ingredients to one side of the pan, tip in the cooked rice and gently fold in with the vegetables & tofu. Serve in the paella pan with the lemon wedges ~ et voila, buena appetite, as the Spanish would say!
As an option, try adding shavings of a vegetarian hard cheese, or wedges of hard boiled free range eggs.
*Capers are un-ripened buds from a small bush native to the middle east & mediterranean regions. Fresh blossoms are sun dried then pickled in brine to bring out their distinctive lemony flavour. They’re a key addition to this recipe for tangy flavour.
Mushroom & Chickpea Loaf ~ simply sumptuous!
I’ve been so busy this summer, with B&B guests, and Pamper Day clients as well as my usual massage clients that it’s been difficult to keep up with all the Monday’s that have passed between now and my last Meat Free Monday post!
Even our guest for supper took this photo! As it begins to quieten down though, I hope I’ll have more time to test & post my recipes and to tempt you with some delicious photography!
In the meantime, here’s the recipe for this simply sumptuous moist mushroom loaf…
500 gms button mushrooms; 400 gms cooked chickpeas, drained; 2 medium onions; 100 gms wholemeal breadcrumbs; 1 handful of pitted black olives; 1 handful of fresh spinach leaves; 1 handful fresh tarragon; heroic grind of black pepper.
Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 4(180C). Loosely chop all ingredients, then blend together in a processor in batches. Spoon into a greased and lined loaf tin, smooth the top and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
That’s it! How easy is that? Serve with a tomato salsa, crusty bread and some good friends!
Maybe its time to stop horsing around with food and get back to basics folks! Keep your food simple, organic whenever possible and free from processing! Plant it! Grow it! Love it! Eat it! Give yourself a fighting chance – eat loads of fresh fruit and veg in your daily diet – your body will love you for it!