Those who know my sister Lucia know what an amazing cook and baker she is. She is self-taught and learned the secrets of Italian cooking passed down within our family for generations. Everything she creates, in my opinion, is a masterpiece. So since it’s artichoke season, today I’m going to share with you a favorite recipe that she created and one that is an absolute family favorite!
The artichoke has been around for centuries and like most of the ancient populations, they consumed wild artichokes by boiling them in water or wine. We also like to steam artichokes and season them with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon, a delicious and nutritious dish.
Artichokes are low in calories and high in fiber, making it a low glycemic food and suitable for diabetics. The bitter taste of the artichoke is due to a substance called cynarin, which is responsible for many of the beneficial properties of artichokes such as, improving digestion and having strong antioxidant properties. It also contains vitamin K, which has been shown to improve brain function and blood clots, as well as manganese, a mineral used in the metabolism of fatty acids, cholesterol and amino acids.
This delicious sauce goes well over fettuccini or linguini (or any pasta of your choice), but it can also be made into a soup - just add some parmigiano and homemade croutons and you have an incredibly delectable and nutritious soup!
Lucia’s Artichoke Sauce
Yields: 6 servings
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium sized artichokes, thinly sliced
3 medium sized yellow potatoes, peeled, cut into small-size cubes
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth or filtered water
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/8 teaspoon red crushed pepper
Sea salt to taste
Parmigiano to taste (we use lots of it!)
In a medium sized sauce pan, add olive oil, garlic, and red pepper. Stir and cook until garlic is golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Add cut potatoes and artichokes. Stir and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add vegetable broth, or water, and parsley. Cook covered until potatoes are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Puree mixture in a food mill (https://amzn.to/3bwz83S) or potato mill, and return mixture to the pot. Bring back to boiling point for about 5 minutes. If too thick, add some water or vegetable broth and season to taste. Perfect with linguini!
How to clean and prepare an artichoke:
Prepare a bowl of cold water with lemon juice, as well as fresh lemon halves to keep your artichoke slices from oxidizing and turning brown.
With a Chef’s knife, cut off the bottom of the stem, leaving about 1/2 inch. Pull off any small fibrous dark leaves around the base. Cut about 1/2 inch off the top.
With kitchen shears, or sharp scissors, remove the thorny tips from the leaves and rinse the artichoke under cold water.
Slice artichokes in half. With a spoon or melon baller (https://amzn.to/2wzHpoZ), scoop out and discard the hairy choke and thorny inner leaves. Keep artichokes in water and lemon until ready to slice. Cover them with a dish towel so that they stay submerged.
Place artichoke half down flat on a cutting board. Using a Chef’s knife, thinly slice each artichoke and place slices in water with lemon until ready to use.
Artichokes are filled with vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, potassium, and fiber and are low in calories. Artichokes also contain inulin, a type of fiber that has been linked to several health benefits such helping prevent gastrointestinal issues, enhancing mineral absorption and boosting your immune system.
Garlic has been used as medicine throughout ancient and modern history and has been shown to have numerous beneficial properties. Thanks to allicin, produced when garlic is crushed or chopped, it has antiseptic, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties. It is also believed to be a natural antibiotic. Garlic is heart protective and has been shown to lower high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides. In addition, not only is garlic a staple in the kitchen for my family, but they also use garlic as a treatment for coughs, colds, and the flu.
Parsley is low in calories and is a good source of fiber. It is a versatile herb that provides several beneficial compounds. Because it is high in antioxidants like vitamin C, A, and E, it can help soothe inflammation. It is an herb that helps aid in digestion and reduce bloating. Raw parsley contains folate, an important B vitamin, making it heart supportive. Parsley also acts as a natural breath freshener, especially after consuming garlic.
Potatoes contain a significant amount of fiber and have been found to be heart protective, along with vitamin C and vitamin B6, which help support biochemical reactions in the immune system. Fiber has been shown to lower cholesterol in the blood, thereby decreasing the risk of heart disease. They also contain iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.