Don’t Fear The Artichoke

 Dennis031114_17379-f29a889eThe process of cooking raw artichokes can be daunting to some people, leaving the canned variety as the only option to explore this great vegetable. At home, I usually take the whole raw globe artichoke and boil it, uncovered, in salted, acidified water. The lemon juice and salt in the water will prevent oxidation and enzymatic browning. You may enjoy the leaves and even the stem of the cooked artichoke with simple butter, lemon juice and kosher salt or some hollandaise, aioli or plain hot sauce.

Artichokes have a wide variety of uses, restricted only by the bounds of our imagination. They are great on flatbreads or blended into sauces and dips; they can add a meaty texture to soups and many more. Vegetarians and vegans enjoy the abundant and light texture artichokes add to vegetable patties. The recipe below is completely vegan. It works great as an appetizer or as a main course. The lentil cake is hearty enough to be served on a bun and dainty enough to be formed into mini cakes for a passed appetizer.

Lentil Cakes With Artichoke Remoulade

Lentil Cakes
2 cups red lentils, cooked to well-done and cooled
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced shallot
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dry basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
½ cup Panko bread crumbs, plus more for dusting
Peanut oil for frying

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine thoroughly all ingredients except oil. Once incorporated, the mass should be moist but compact enough to form balls. Make 8 uniform patties and coat the outsides with additional panko. Refrigerate the patties for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a flat-bottom sauté pan on medium-high. When hot, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Once the oil is hot, sear the cakes on both sides but do not burn them. Transfer the cakes to a baking pan and bake them for an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot with the remoulade.

Artichoke Remoulade
½ block soft tofu
¼ cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons ketchup
2 tablespoons Dijon
2 teaspoons Braggs seasoning
1 tablespoon capers
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ cup olive oil
1 can chopped artichokes, drained well and excess water squeezed out
Salt to taste

In a food processor, puree the tofu, lemon juice, ketchup, Dijon, Braggs, capers, onion & garlic powders, paprika and parsley to form a smooth paste. With the machine running, slowly incorporate the olive oil. Take out of the processor and place in a bowl. With a large spoon, fold in the artichokes and season with salt.