Baby Artichokes Make A Marvelous And Easy Appetizer

February 25 00:00 2003 Print This Article

Discovering a wonderful new appetizer can be like striking gold. Baby artichokes, new and hot on menus and party tables all over the country, are the basis of this very easy recipe that you can put together in less than 20 minutes.

Baby artichokes are simple to prepare. After just a little trimming, they are completely edible and ready for quick cooking. This splendid appetizer features halved sauted babies with a savory fat-free cream cheese and roasted red pepper blend. The combination tastes rich, but won't break anyone's calorie bank. Set them out for a special dinner or party. If you've more than six to eight guests, better make a double batch-the food will disappear fast.

Baby artichokes come small-ranging from walnut- to egg-sized-because they grow farther down on the artichoke plant, in the shade of the large frond-like leaves. You'll find baby artichokes in stores now in plastic bags or in handy trays. Ocean Mist Farms' new packaging has easy preparation instructions and a recipe.

Baby artichokes, like their larger cousins, are low in calories, have no cholesterol or fat, and are low in sodium. Artichokes are nutrient-dense, so, for the 25 calories in two baby artichokes, you're getting 16 essential nutrients! Artichokes provide six percent of the Recommended Daily Value of phosphorus, 10 percent of magnesium, eight percent of manganese, 10 percent of chromium, five percent of potassium, four percent of iron and two percent of calcium. In addition to all these important minerals, artichokes are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and folate. All this means that artichokes, as a part of a low-fat, high-fiber diet, can help reduce the risk of certain types of heart disease, cancers and birth defects.

Choosing one or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day from each of the five color groups-blue/purple, green, white, yellow/ orange, is an easy way to get the health benefits eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides. Go "green" with baby artichokes.

Baby Artichokes with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Cheese

Makes 24 appetizers

  • 12 Ocean Mist Farms baby artichokes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 container (12 1/2 ounces) fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup drained roasted red peppers or drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or seasoned salt-optional
  • Pepper
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
  1. Rinse baby artichokes and cook in enough boiling water to cover until just barely tender, about 3 to 5 minutes, depending on size of artichokes. Drain well. Trim stems and cut off top tips, using sharp knife or kitchen shears. Cut in half lengthwise.
  2. In large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add garlic and baby artichoke halves. Cook, turning occasionally, until artichokes begin to brown at edges. Lift out of skillet and drain on paper towels. Arrange on serving platter, cut side up.
  3. In blender or food processor, blend cream cheese and red peppers or sun-dried tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper until smooth. Spoon a rounded teaspoonful onto each baby artichoke half. Garnish with small sprigs of fresh basil.

Nutritional Information For One Appetizer:
90 calories (13% from fat); 2.8 g fat; .6g saturated fat; 251mg sodium;
7g protein; 11g carbohydrate; 3mg cholesterol; 5mg dietary fiber;

Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., is the President of the Produce for Better Health Foundation.

Source: NAPS

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