It's artichoke season, and in addition to making an artistic statement on your table (and in your mouth), the vegetable is packed with vitamins and minerals without the negative components of high calories and fat. The artichoke actually is a thistle believed to have originated in North Africa or southern Europe around the Mediterranean. In the United States, almost all artichokes sold commercially are grown in California, with the majority grown in Monterey County near San Francisco.
The boiled artichoke with Dijon sauce recipe featured here comes from the Hollygrove Market and Farm (8301 Olive St., 343-5537; www.hollygrovemarket.com), whose Web site features healthy recipes using seasonal vegetables. Hollygrove Market and Farm is a nonprofit agriculture training project and produce market with a mission of increasing the accessibility of fresh, local produce to New Orleans.
This dish is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, folate, beta carotene, vitamins B6, A, C, E and K, and also contains calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, thiamin, riboblavin and niacin. It's sort of like taking a multivitamin in a delicious and fun-to-eat form. The sauce adds zest to the artichoke without weighing it down with a load of calories and fat. Sprinkle crushed red pepper in the sauce for extra zing.
Hollygrove Market's Artichokes with Dijon Sauce
2 medium artichokes
Salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Smart Balance or similar butter replacement
Red pepper (cracked)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 egg (beaten)
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Clean and trim artichokes by stripping off the tough outer leaves and cutting off the stem. Fill a pot with salted water and place artichokes in the pot stem down, adding water until they are covered. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to the water to preserve the color of the artichokes. Boil on medium heat for 30-40 minutes. To test for doneness, pull a leaf out of the middle row of the artichoke and if it is tender and flexible, the artichokes are done. Remove and drain upside down to remove water from the leaves.
In a small saucepan, combine beaten egg, mustard, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter replacement and a pinch or two of cracked red pepper. Heat mixture on medium setting until it thickens (3-5 minutes), stirring constantly.
Once the sauce is cooked, you can either peel the leaves of the artichoke and drizzle the sauce on top, or pour the sauce in small dipping bowls.
Nutritional information per serving:
Protein: 2.16 grams
Carbohydrates: 6.72 grams
Fiber: 3.04 grams
Saturated fat: .523 grams
Cholesterol: 52 milligrams