Stuffed Artichoke w/Quinoa Pesto

Stuffed Artichoke w/Quinoa Pesta
Stuffed Artichoke w/Quinoa Pesta

I was stopping by one of my favorite neighborhood grocery stories, Caravia  (http://www.caraviafreshfoods.com), to pick up some multicolored cherry tomatoes and some basil to make one of my favorite salads….but then I started to wander in the produce section and the wheels started turning….

I came upon a large raw artichoke.  I had stuffed artichokes in the past and they were ok…not well seasoned…but ok…and I thought, how could I liven up an artichoke?  I picked one up in all it’s green goodness…and kept wandering to find myself in the dry goods food section.  I reached for some bread crumbs…thinking I’d make a stuffed artichoke…but then I looked at the shelf above it and saw the quinoa.  Why don’t I made quinoa instead of the bread crumbs and use that as the filling?  What could I do to make the quinoa colorful?  I looked above the dry goods section and I saw jars of pesto.  YES!!!  Why don’t I make fresh pesto (when I can, I look to make things from scratch) and mix half of the mixture in with the quinoa, then spoon this emerald green sauce over the artichoke at the end of the cooking process?  Then, I came upon the balsamic glazes…to finish it off…make it a little more Italian, drizzle some of that sweet and savory glaze over the entire artichoke.

I thought about logistics…do I hollow out the entire artichoke and create an area for extra quinoa pesto…then add some extra pecorino cheese on top to melt?  YES!!!  That’s what I love about being a food blogger.  I see one ingredient, and I get ideas…I look around…and things just make sense…they go together and it is a creative process.  I am loving this passion of mine…healthy and colorful food.  Artichokes have wonderful healthy qualities.  They are packed with antioxidants, vitamin C & K and are a great source of fiber.  When you have a large one like this, once you cook it, you can remove the leaves, one by one and scoop up the filling in each leaf, and graze your teeth to get the meat of the leaf and the entire act is a healthy experience!  Enjoy!

Stuffed Artichoke w/Quinoa Pesto

1 raw artichoke

1/4 cup of pecorino cheese (grated)

1/2 cup quinoa

1 1/2 cup chicken broth

1 cup of water

salt & pepper to taste

1 tbsp balsamic glaze (to top at the end)

Pesto:

1 cup basil leaves

1 garlic clove

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tbsp pine nuts (or almonds as a substitute)

1/4 grated pecorino cheese

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

In a rice cooker, place the chicken broth, quinoa and salt and pepper.  Hit the “white rice” button and let it cook for 20 minutes.

Take the raw artichoke, wash it thoroughly, and slice off the top inch of it.  Gently clip the top of each leaf and remove the bottom leaves.  Slice off the bottom stem to keep it stable.  Salt and pepper in the open areas of the vegetable.

In the food processor, place the basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts and pecorino cheese in and blend it until it is smooth.

When the quinoa is cooked, mix half of the pesto with it.  Open the artichoke in the center and remove the contents that contain all of the purple leaves.  Fill it with the quinoa pesto.  Open the rest of the artichoke like a flower and place the quinoa pesto in each open area.  On the top take a portion of the cheese and cover the middle area of the artichoke.  In an oven proof pan, fill it with 1 cup of water and place the stuffed artichoke in the middle of the pan and cover it with nonstick foil.  Let it cook for 60 minutes.

Once the artichoke is cooked, take it out of the oven and scoop it out onto the plate.  On the top sprinkle some extra cheese.  Drizzle the rest of the pesto on top and also spoon on the balsamic glaze for color and savoriness.  Slice 3 multicolored cherry tomatoes and put them on top for a garnish.  As you eat this dish, you can pull the leaves with the filling on them and dip the leaves in the center for extra filling!  Enjoy!!

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