Posts Tagged artichoke

Asparagus and Artichoke Pizza

Pizza is not at all difficult to make. It requires a little planning, and a choice between a food processor and elbow grease. That’s about it. Make pizza at home, and not only will it be piping hot and crispy-crusted from the oven, but you can put any toppings you want on it, and any (or no) sauce.

I make pizza at home by necessity. While there are pizza places I can trust not to attempt tomato homicide (love ya, Urban Crust), for the most part pizza out just isn’t worth the risk or the expense. Enter pizza at home. You don’t have to have a pizza stone to make it–heck, my “pizza stone” is an old stone chess board I picked up for $3 (The chess pieces are my pie weights), and it replaces an 18″ square unfinished stone tile from Home Depot that snapped when we moved. Before the tile, I used a cookie sheet. Want a deep dish pizza? Use a cast iron skillet. Ignore people who tell you the only way to make good pizza at home is with expensive equipment. It just isn’t true, and you’ll miss out on good pizza if you trust them.

For the crust, I adapt Mark Bittman’s crust from How to Cook Everything. For the topping, I just use whatever I feel like at the time–in this case, asparagus, artichokes, and goat cheese. This recipe makes  a small pizza to serve 2-3 people. Double it to serve more.



For the crust:

1 t instant yeast

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 t kosher salt

1/2 cup warm water

2 T olive oil

For the topping:

1/2 lb grated mozzarella

4 oz goat cheese

1/2 lb cooked asparagus (steamed, roasted, however you like)

10-12 cooked artichoke hearts (sautéed in lemon butter is best; steamed, boiled, or roasted will work)

a pinch of salt

1-1 1/2 cups sauce of your choice, if desired


Pour the flour, yeast, and salt into the bowl of a food processor.

Pulse briefly to combine.

With the blade running, drizzle in the water and olive oil. As soon as the dough comes together in a cohesive ball, turn off the food processor.

Knead the dough briefly and form it into as round a ball as you can. Place this dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl.

Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rise for at least an hour or up to two. If you need it to rest longer, put it in the fridge.

Turn the risen dough out onto a chess board/tile/cookie sheet that you’ve lightly dusted with a bit of flour or cornmeal. Preheat the oven to 500°F. No, that is not a typo. You need a really hot oven for pizza. it will cook fast and crisp up beautifully.

Punch it into a rough circle. (Full disclosure: my pizzas are usually unholy trapezoids, shapes that fit neatly into the dreams of great Cthulhu and are best not seen by sane men. This is the real reason I’ve never written about a pizza on here before. This one looks all right, though.)

Let the crust sit another ten minutes or so, so that you can smack it back into shape if that pesky gluten tries to contract and shrink your pizza. Add your sauce, if using, then cheese and toppings. I actually like to put the toppings underneath the cheese, because the cheese glues them down and keeps them from sliding around when the pizza is cut, but they look better on top. It’s up to you.

Bake at 500°F for 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt (and any other spices you like) and serve piping hot.

So good. Pizza you can eat on the couch, knowing it hasn’t been marinating in its own sweat for half an hour in the backseat of a delivery person’s car.

A note about cutting pizza: I hate pizza cutting wheels, because there is not enough room in anyone’s kitchen for a tool that’s only good for one thing. I use a sharp knife and press down with a gentle rocking motion, without sawing or sliding, until it cuts through. The pizza gets cut, all the cheese does not slide off, everyone is happy. Well, everyone except the guy who was secretly trying to steal all the cheese.



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Artichoke Pesto

Pesto has been in short supply in our apartment this summer, since the heat has so thoroughly stunted the growth of basil that we haven’t been able to save up enough for a pesto. I kept looking back at the pea pesto  posted on Smitten Kitchen back in June, but Mr. B hates peas. He hates them like a four-year-old boy, making faces and stomping his feet if I even talk about putting peas in something he has to eat, too.

We both love artichokes, though. And if pureed artichokes can be used to fill pierogis, I couldn’t see why they wouldn’t make a perfectly good pesto.

I was right. It’s creamy and rich, but still fresh and light as a pesto should be.

Ingredients (serves 2)

8 oz frozen artichoke hearts, thawed

1/4 pound asparagus

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1-2 cloves garlic

2 T lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil, plus a few teaspoons for cooking the vegetables

salt and pepper to taste

6 oz. dry pasta

2 chicken breasts

a few basil leaves

2 T butter, oil, or schmaltz


Heat a splash of olive oil and the 2 T of lemon juice over high heat.

Add the artichokes.

Sauté the artichokes until they are well browned.

Set aside the artichokes and add the asparagus to the pan.

Sauté the asparagus as well. Also the garlic, if your garlic has not been stolen by a squirrel.

Put the artichokes, asparagus, and garlic into the bowl of a food processor. Add the olive oil.

Process until it forms a smooth paste.

Add the parmesan, salt, and pepper and process it again.

Set the pesto aside. Heat some oil or butter or schmaltz over medium-high heat in a grill pan.

Add the chicken and some basil leaves to the pan.

Cook the chicken 4-5 minutes a side until it’s fully cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the heat and chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta.

Drain the pasta and top it with the pesto.

Stir in the pesto.

Divide the pasta among your plates and top with the basil chicken.

Serve immediately. The pesto might be easier to stir into the pasta if you thin it out with a bit of pasta water, but I never remember to reserve any and it was delightful without alteration. We had a bit of pesto leftover and spread it over some toasted French bread for lunch the next day. If you like artichokes, this pesto is a must.



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Artichoke Hash Browns

Sweet foods are great, but they’re nothing without savory. Especially breakfast foods. As delightful as the ice cream French toast was, the artichoke hash browns were the star of that particular breakfast-for-dinner. Artichokes lend such amazing flavor to anything they’re cooked with, and the duck schmaltz does what it does to everything it touches (adds flavor, adds calories, you know). Spice it up a bit and you have the best hash browns out there.

Ingredients (serves 2 as a side)

1 large potato, cut into small dice

8-10 thawed frozen artichoke hearts, also diced

2-3 T duck fat, schmaltz, or butter

salt and paprika to taste


Melt the fat in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Scoop the potato and artichoke hash into the pan. Cover with a lid and let it cook over medium-high for 5-7 minutes.

Uncover and add salt and paprika. Flip and sauté the hash browns until they’re your desired level of done. I like mine very crispy, so I gave them a whole ten minutes uncovered. Serve with Sriracha and French toast or waffles or fresh fruit. Enjoy!





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Artichoke Pierogis

It feels a bit wrong to buy bags of frozen artichoke hearts when the fresh ones are falling off the shelves in their eagerness to go home with me at the grocery store. It isn’t that I’m afraid to cook a whole artichoke–I’ve done it many times–but I just don’t see the point. You throw 9/10 of it away. The heart gets mangled and overcooked (unless you severely undercook the leaves) and you get those thistly strings stuck between your teeth from that barbarian scraping of the 1/4 teaspoon of flesh from gargantuan, spiky leaves.

Mostly, though, I don’t like throwing food away, and I figure evil corporations want to milk every last penny from everything, so the inedible parts are probably being sold as cattle feed or a component of drywall or something, and I don’t have to deal with it. So I buy the frozen ones, even in springtime.

I saw this recipe ages ago, and ignored it because I was sulking about the tomato sauce. And because I’m afraid of making homemade pasta. Even though pierogis are basically homemade pasta and I can throw a batch together in less than half an hour, and I know hand-rolling the dough is easy as sin. So I took my sour cream pierogi dough and made Smitten Kitchen’s artichoke ravioli filling.


Ingredients (serves 2, filling adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1/2 recipe pierogi dough (make a whole recipe and freeze the rest. Or use it all and double the filling to serve 4. Whatever.)

2 T butter

2-3 cloves garlic, crushed

8 oz bag of frozen artichoke hearts, rinsed and thawed

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1 egg yolk

zest of  1 lemon

pinch salt

grated nutmeg, to taste


Melt butter over high heat until bubbly.

The bubbles subsided while I was fumbling with my camera. So sad.


Plop your artichoke hearts and crushed garlic cloves in the butter.

Fry 6-8 minutes to brown well. Browning=Flavor.

Meanwhile, grate parmesan, lemon zest, and nutmeg.

Put the fried artichoke in the bowl of a food processor.

Add cheese and lemon zest and process.

Add yolk and nutmeg and salt and process again. It won’t get totally smooth. It’s okay. Texture is a good thing.  Flour your work surface and prepare the pierogi dough.

Roll the dough very thin and cut into 3 1/2 inch to four-inch circles.

Put 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each dough circle.

Fold each circle in half and pinch to seal the sides.

I had a few extra pierogi circles when the filling was gone, because Mr. B got hungry and scooped a giant spoonful of the filling into his mouth ten minutes before dinner.  I filled those with little squares of cream cheese.

Cook the pierogis in uncrowded batches for 3-4 minutes.

Serve immediately with sour cream, fruit and vegetables, or on their own if the other folks you are feeding just can’t wait another 45 seconds for dinner.  Honestly, it’s as though 11 P.M. were an unreasonable time to eat.

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Kale-Artichoke Casserole

I’ve tried a lot of different ways to make Matzoh palatable. Nutella becomes bland in its presence. A cookie dough dip was too rich and almost sour from the cream cheese. Don’t get me wrong, it was interesting, but it was nothing like cookie dough. Straight cream cheese with some smoked salmon worked out nicely, and thick slabs of cheddar were likewise a hit this year. So apparently I enjoy my matzoh more with savory toppings than sweet. Why not crumble it into a cheesy vegetable casserole?

I had half a pound of kale and I always have bags of frozen artichoke hearts. However, I highly recommend experimenting here. Eggplant slices, onion, asparagus, and pumpkin all seem like good candidates to add in.


1/2 pound kale (or spinach or mustard greens)

1 eight-ounce bag of frozen artichoke hearts, rinsed and thawed

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 T olive oil

2 sheets matzoh. I can’t even call them crackers. crackers aren’t this huge.

1/4 pound havarti, grated


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the kale into bite-sized pieces and discard the ribs. Heat the oil over high heat in a large skillet or wok. Add the garlic, then toss the kale in it to coat.

Once the smell of frying kale hits you, cover the pan and let it cook about 5 minutes.

Mix the kale with the artichoke hearts and spread them in a layer in a small casserole dish.

Crush the matzoh using your favorite crushing method. I put the sheets in a Ziploc bag and hit them with my rolling pin (one of the many advantages of having a solid Italian rolling pin is the lack of fussy handles. It’s essentially a very smooth club.) Sprinkle the matzoh crumbs over the veggies.

And sprinkle the cheese over the matzoh.  Havarti is very sticky, so I probably should have mixed it with the matzoh crumbs first. As it was, I got a lovely cheese layer on top but no cheese penetrated throughout the casserole. Not bad, but could have been better.

Bake for 20 minutes until the top is golden and the smell is driving you mad with hunger.

It is light. It is gorgeous. It is filling yet mostly healthful. delightful little fronds of kale peek up through the cheese and crisp like chips when you bite them. Soft, buttery artichoke hearts take the bite out of the cheese. And throughout is the crunch of matzoh. This is truly the only dish I would say is improved by those horrible, flavorless crackers. Of course, I’ll have to test this out with some butter crackers now that Passover has ended. For the sake of Science.

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Artichoke Yam Risotto

Whoever thought up risotto was a genius. Sticky gloppy rice with so much depth of flavor I can’t eat it fast if I try, and it keeps me warm in these awful snowstorms that seem determined to find me. Well the joke’s on you, unpredictable Texas weather! Mr. Blackbird already stocked up on groceries for the week, so I’m just going to hide in the warmth of my apartment and make endless cups of hot chocolate! Ha! Well, that and go to work.

Anyway. Risotto!

Ingredients (serves 3, or two plus lunch for one the next day)

2 T butter

about 1/3 of a yam

(1/2 of an onion, diced. Not in this house, though. Yuck, onions!)

some artichoke hearts. I used about 15 (frozen) because I am an artichoke fiend.

3/4 cup arborio rice short or medium grain rice*

3/4 cup white wine. Whatever you’re drinking with dinner is fine.

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup grated parmesan or other hard cheese (I used parrono)


Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, slice the yam super thin and then chop the slices so they’re bite size. Now that I think about it, it would have been easier and probably yummier to just grate them on a box grater. Sauté the yam and artichoke in the butter until just beginning to brown. Onions too, if you allow the little beasts into your home.

Now add your rice and sauté until translucent. Use a wooden spoon for risotto, by the way. It seems easier to keep the gloppy stuff from permanently fusing to wood than metal or plastic, I guess because it’s porous.

Turn the heat down to medium and pour the wine in. You’ll want a good book or a good conversation in the kitchen with you for the rest of this, ’cause from here on out you just get to stir for 20 minutes straight.

Stir the risotto until the wine is almost completely absorbed or evaporated. Then add 1/2 cup of broth and stir that until it’s almost gone. Continue doing this until you’ve used all 2 cups of broth. Now taste a bite. Is it soft on the outside with just a touch of crunch in the middle? Does it look fluffy and cooked, like this?

If so, turn off the heat. If not, add another 1/2 cup of broth and stir again. Not all rice is created equal. Once it’s done, stir in your 1/2 cup of grated cheese. It will instantly change the texture and smell of the dish for the better.

I served mine with duck breast and some kale (I forgot to cook the kale–oops!) and the rest of the wine we used in cooking. And that, my friends, is how you keep the winter at bay.

*Okay, so Arborio rice costs $15 for two pounds. Holy crap! My koshihikari (Japanese short grain sticky rice, great for sushi) cost $8 for four and a half pounds, and that already cost four times more by weight than the long grain jasmine rice I get in 50 pound bags. So I decided sticky rice is sticky rice and used the Japanese stuff. And it’s great. I doubt even an Italian grandma would call foul on this.

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