Steamed Artichokes with Three Dipping Sauces

Steamed Artichokes with Three Dipping Sauces

By April Swiger, Contributing Writer

Ring in spring with this seasonal delicacy! These savory dips, rich in healthy fats and bursting with flavor, are the perfect addition to the lovely spring artichoke. They are a cinch to whip up, and an easy way to jazz up the standard side of melted lemon butter, or mayonniase, typically served with them.

I learned how to eat an artichoke at a very young age and immediately fell in love. I don’t know if it had to do with the actual artichoke itself, or the fact that my mother always served it with a big bowl of melted butter and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Yum! Regardless, I adore the taste and look forward to steaming some up this time every year.

Springtime is peak season for artichokes. These beautiful greenish, purple-hued thistles may appear intimidating at first, but I assure you they are very easy to prepare. A few minutes of prep time allows you to cut the stem off, thorns from the petals, and quickly rinse it for steaming. Place them in a pot with some crushed garlic, lemon slices, and bay leaves, and your kitchen will smell amazing within minutes.

Steamed Artichokes with Three Dipping Sauces

I love the unique way artichokes are eaten. Dip individual petals into your choice of dip and scrape off the “meat” at the tip through clenched teeth. Discard the petal in a scrap bowl and repeat. When you reach the heart of the artichoke (the best part, in my opinion), gently scoop out the fine fuzzy hairs with a spoon or knife, slice it into bite sized pieces, and dip. If you love butter, like I do, you will truly savor every bite.

These three dips are made with basic ingredients that most everyone has available to them, and are simple to assemble with minimal dishes. They can be easily doubled for larger groups.

Steamed Artichokes with Three Dipping Sauces
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side
 
These savory sauces are the perfect compliment to the lovely spring artichoke.
Ingredients
  • 4 Artichokes
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 3 Garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 Lemon slices
  • A sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • For the Parmesan Butter Sauce:
  • 2 Tbls butter, melted
  • 2 Tbls olive oil
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 Pinch of lemon zest
  • 1 Small garlic clove, minced
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • For the Balsamic Mustard Sauce:
  • 2 Tbls balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbls olive oil
  • 1 Tbls dijon mustard
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • For the Lemon and Herb Butter Sauce:
  • 4 Tbls butter, melted
  • 1 Small garlic clove, minced
  • ⅛ tsp each of dried thyme, oregano and basil
  • 1 Tbls fresh lemon juice
  • A pinch of sea salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Cut the stems off each artichoke, along with ½-1 inch off the top, and trim the prickly thorn off each petal. Rinse them under cool water, gently spreading the leaves open.
  2. Place them upside-down in a pot with about 2 inches of water, the bay leaf, garlic cloves, lemon slices, and salt and pepper. Bring the water to a boil, then turn down the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 25-35 minutes, or until a knife can be easily poked through the artichokes from top to bottom.
  3. While the artichokes are simmering, prepare your dips.
  4. For the Parmesan Butter Sauce: Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and whisk in the remaining ingredients. Transfer to a small bowl for dipping. Serve warm.
  5. For the Balsamic Mustard Sauce: Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until incorporated.
  6. For the Lemon and Herb Butter Sauce: Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and whisk in the remaining ingredients. Transfer to a small bowl for dipping. Serve warm.
  7. How to eat: Dip individual petals into your choice of dip and scrape off the “meat” at the tip through clenched teeth. Discard the petal in a bowl and repeat. When you reach the heart of the artichoke (the best part!), gently scoop out the fine fuzzy hairs with a spoon or knife, slice it into bite sized pieces, and dip.

 

Nori and Sesame Sprinkles

Nori and Sesame Sprinkles - These are delicious sprinkled on rice, on quinoa, salads, and roasted vegetables.

Gently pan toasted and sweetened with coconut sugar, this is one of our favorite ways to get a serving of seaweed in! You can serve it with rice (a traditional way to enjoy it), quinoa, or top green salads, roasted vegetables, cucumber salads, and a lot more too with it. We sometimes enjoy it by the spoonful. In fact, the above batch was eaten with spoons by my daughters earlier today!

In my last post, I shared why it was recommended to me to add seaweed to my diet (and 4 reasons you may want to as well). This has been one of the most enjoyable and easiest ways for sure! It’s based on the product(Amazon links are affiliate) SeaSprinkles, which we love. However, as you may imagine, it is quite a bit cheaper to make your own version, so I do that now most of the time.

Many of you asked about sharing resources for buying seaweed from the Atlantic Ocean (because of concerns about radiation). Buying seaweed from Maine is one great option, and there are many small companies out there. I’d love to hear resources from you to include in the next post!

If you are unable to find nori flakes, you can simply flake nori pieces (or cut them into small pieces). I bought my nori flakes in bulk (it’s no longer available from the company I purchased it from, otherwise I’d link to them), but there are some items on Amazon, including these  nori flakes that the company says they test for all heavy metals, contaminants, and radiation.

Nori and Sesame Sprinkles
 
 
Ingredients
  • Avocado oil (or oil of choice)
  • ⅔ cup nori flakes
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat (if using cast iron, use medium), add enough oil to lightly oil the pan.
  2. Add the nori flakes and sesame seeds to the pan, and stir continually for 2-4 minutes, until the nori and sesame seeds are lightly toasted (make sure you don't burn them!).
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut sugar. Let cool and serve, or store in an air-tight container.

 

Homemade Herbed Garlic Salt with Lemon

Herbed Garlic Salt (so many uses, delicious, and a great food gift!)

This beautiful homemade seasoning salt is overflowing with fresh herbs, flavorful garlic, and zesty lemon peel. You can use this homemade seasoning salt in so many delicious ways, or give it away as a lovely food gift. Sprinkle it over vegetables or chicken to be roasted, or season pan fried salmon with it, for example.

Salt has been valued since ancient times, with wars waged over salt routes, and many hundreds of miles traveled in search of it. But salt has become a beast of a different sort through the modern refining process. We especially look for unrefined salts that still contain trace minerals and aren’t harshly treated and refined with chemicals. You can use whatever salt you like best, or is available to you. This recipe uses a coarse or kosher salt. Here are two possible unrefined salt choices (some links may be affiliate links): Celtic Sea Salt , Redmond Real Salt (Kosher/coarse)

This specific recipe is an adaption of this Tuscan Salt recipe from The Splendid Table. Ever since I listened to this episode of the podcast, I have meant to make it. Now that I finally have, I have to say that it makes everything taste better! What I love about it is that it take just a few minutes of active time to make, but saves so much time when you are cooking. Instead of having to gather a variety of spices for a single dish, you can just use this to season the whole thing. I made baked French “fries” the other night and used this on it instead of regular salt, and it was so good! We were impressed.

And with something as delicious as this, it would be perfect as a food gift. Packing can be as simple as a cute 4 ounce canning jar. As an aside, if you don’t already, having a microplane zester/grater can be really helpful for a variety of tasks, including zesting lemons for recipes such as this one.

How to make an herbed garlic salt (delicious for home use, for for giving as a gift!)

Homemade Herbed Garlic Salt with Lemon
 
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup of coarse of kosher salt
  • 2 cups of mixed fresh herbs (I used ½ each of fresh sage and thyme and 1 cup of rosemary)
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled, and coarsely chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250F.
  2. To measure herbs, place loosely in a 2 cup measuring cup (no need to press down on herbs).
  3. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor, and blend until the herbs and garlic are well blended, and the salt is finer.
  4. Spread on a baking sheet, and place in the oven, middle rack. Bake until dry (this will depend on how wet your salt and herbs are - 15-30 minutes should do it. Check about every ten minutes and give a quick stir when checking.
  5. Remove from oven and cool, and then store in an airtight container.
  6. While this will be "good" indefinitely, for best flavor, use up within 3 months.

 

Cranberry Walnut Goat Cheese Ball

Cranberry Walnut Goat Cheese Ball (perfect for Christmas and the New Year!)

Tangy, with crunchy walnuts, savory shallots, and sweet cranberries, this goat cheese ball is perfect for the holidays! It is easy to whip together, can be made days in advance (or even frozen) and makes a lovely addition to a cheese platter or to serve along side celery sticks or rich whole grain crackers. Or give it as a food gift (or hostess gift.)

Personally, I am putting together some snack-y hors d’oeuvre to have out for Christmas day/afternoon when we are together as an extended family. Smoked salmon ( #affiliate link  here is a lovely example), this cheese ball, and my favorite liver pate (served with home pickled onions) with some gluten free and regular crackers will make a special but nourishing addition to the usual holiday fun.

Freezing cheese balls

I have never tried freezing a cheese ball before, but Martha Stewart says you can freeze cheese balls for up to a month, which is perfect for my plans of pre-making as much of the food as I can. This cheese ball is now nestled in my freezer well wrapped, waiting for Christmas cheer and magic to happen. But I admit, it may be a little smaller after we all had a few samples of it. 😉

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Notes on Ingredients

You can use raw, soaked and dehydrated or toasted walnuts. To toast, stir constantly in a cast iron pan over medium heat until the nuts are starting to brown.

I love these Organic Apple Sweetened Cranberries (affiliate link) for projects like this one.

Cranberry Walnut Goat Cheese Ball - A delicious appetizer, party food, or food gift!

Cranberry Walnut Goat Cheese Ball
 
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Tangy, with crunchy walnuts, savory shallots, and sweet cranberries, this goat cheese ball is perfect for the holidays! It is easy to whip together, can be made days in advance (or even frozen) and makes a lovely addition to a cheese platter or to serve along side celery sticks or crackers! Or give it as a food gift (or hostess gift.)
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces of chévre goat cheese (look for the soft goat cheese logs)
  • 1-2 tablespoons fat of choice (such as avocado oil, home rendered fats, etc).
  • ¼ cup chopped shallots
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped walnuts
  • ⅓ cup dried, sweetened cranberries (I used fruit juice sweetened), roughly chopped
  • ¼-1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. In a small pan, over medium heat saute the shallots in fat/oil of choice until softened and starting to brown (about five to seven minutes). Make sure you stir almost constantly to prevent burning.
  2. In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer, mix the goat cheese with the cooked shallots, ⅓ cup walnuts, and cranberries.
  3. Using a spatula, scoop into a rough ball, and then use your hands to pat into a ball. Cover the surface with the extra chopped walnuts.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 3 days. Or freeze up to one month, well wrapped.
  5. Serve with crackers, crudités, cucumber slices, or celery sticks!