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This is another part in my series on seasonal cooking. Eating seasonally is the best way to maximize the nutrition you get from your foods. This recipe is for three artichokes plus dip and can be used as an appetizer or a light spring meal. Artichokes are high in dietary fiber and folic acid, so they’re great for you, but I find people usually dip them in a pretty heavy sauce, usually consisting of mayonnaise or butter. I like this sauce because it is filling due to the unsaturated fat content and it packs a lot of flavor.
3 large artichokes
1 cup cashews soaked in one cup of water over night (reserve water for using in the aoili)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
6 cloves garlic
1/3 cup mint leaves lightly packed
cayenne pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh dill coarsely chopped
2 green onions coarsely chopped
1/2 cup reserved water (from cashews), plus more to reach desired consistency
To Prepare an Artichoke:
Cut about an inch off the top of the artichoke, and an inch or so off the bottom, removing any small outer leaves around the stem. Pour an inch of water and the lemon peel in the bottom of a steamer, and allow to boil. Insert steamer tray and the artichokes, stems up. Cook covered for 20-25 minutes, larger artichokes will take longer to cook. To check if they are done cooking, cut into the base of an artichoke with a sharp knife. If it is soft, it’s done. you can also try pulling on the middle leaves to see if they can be removed easily. If they are not ready, put back in and steam for five more minutes. Then, drain it upside down on a towel to remove excess water.
Cashew Lemon Mint Aoili:
Place all ingredients in a food processor except the mint and blend until creamy. Then add mint leaves and pulse until just combined, so the mint leaves are still slightly visible.
Serve and enjoy!