Thursday, July 24, 2008

Artichoke and Asparagus Sauté with Toasted Bread Crumbs

Here’s another recipe from my beloved “Local Flavors” (now recently re-released and available in paperback!) Of course, the author, Deborah Madison is from Santa Fe so artichokes are “local” to her. Not so much for us New Englanders. But most of the rest of the ingredients can be had locally grown -- asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini and scallions.
I liked the looks of this recipe on the page because I’m always a fan of those vegetarian recipes that tend to strike fear in the heart of meat eaters. (No meat! No pasta or rice! Just a pile of green stuff on a plate! *cue running, screaming carnivores*) The very best ones are able to transcend their ingredients to become something more, and this dish does not disappoint.
I made a few changes, of course, because I always do. I used baby artichokes and ended up using about five of them, and I wish I’d used a few more. Instead of regular zucchini I used these chunky globe ones I bought at the Farmer’s Market, but I don’t imagine that made much of a big difference in taste. In the original recipe she says to slice the asparagus thinly on the diagonal and since a. I wasn’t really sure what that meant and b. there are not enough hours in the day for me to spend one of them slicing a pound of asparagus into slivers, so I just cut them into pieces like I normally do for recipes.
Also, she isn’t really clear on how you use supposed to use the bread crumbs, once you make them -- so I tossed some in at the end with the parsley and then added a few more as garnish, with the cheese.
I found it difficult to figure out what the meal would actually be *like* from the recipe so I’ll let you know that it ends up as a hearty summer stew. I served it with a yummy loaf of sourdough bread and it was perfect. No pasta required.

3 large, 4 medium, or some number larger than five baby artichokes, trimmed and quartered
salt and pepper
1lb asparagus, cut into small pieces
1/2lb mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, including an inch of the greens, chopped
2 medium zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (I used lemon juice instead)
1/2 cup fres bread crumbs
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 white wine
1 cup water
freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cook the artichokes in one quart of salted water until tender-firm, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and slice thinly. Cut the rest of the vegetables as described.
Chop the parsley and garlic together and add the zest or lemon juice. Brown the bread crumbs in 1 tablespoon of oil and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet (and I do mean large, this dish almost maxed out my biggest chef’s pan) and add the artichokes, asparagus and zucchini. Cook over high heat for a few minutes, then add the scallions and mushrooms, and cook for five minutes more. Add some salt.
Add the wine and let it sizzle and reduce. Then add the water and simmer for a few more minutes until all the vegetables are cooked. Toss them with the parsley and garlic mixture and the bread crumbs and then garnish with the cheese.

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