9+ Reasons to Love Artichoke Hearts

143570640

143570640

Herb Artichoke Hearts

Photo by: Charlotte Lake

Charlotte Lake

It doesn’t matter how you find 'em--frozen, canned, bottled, marinated or discovered at the center of the beautiful fresh vegetable--artichoke hearts have amazing flavor and boast some serious nutrients.

First, they're loaded with potassium, a mineral that helps maintain normal heart rhythm and controls blood pressure. Artichokes also contain powerful phytonutrients and antioxidants that may lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease and boost the body's immune system. Lastly, artichoke hearts are brimming with vitamin C and fiber.

For the following ideas, use artichoke hearts from the boiled whole vegetable (boil for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender) or those that are frozen and thawed, or drained from cans and jars.

Roast 'Em: Spread artichoke hearts out on a baking sheet; season with salt and black pepper; roast at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Add to:

• Omelets and frittatas
• Panini
• Macaroni and cheese
• Mashed potatoes
• Fajitas
• Pasta salad
• Potato salad
• Chicken salad
• Egg salad

Pesto: Combine in a food processor 2 cups each artichoke hearts and fresh basil leaves; 2 tablespoons each toasted pine nuts and grated Parmesan cheese; and 2 to 3 chopped garlic cloves. Pulse until finely chopped. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil and puree until smooth, adding more olive oil if necessary to create a thick puree. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Hummus: Puree 1 cup artichoke hearts into 2 cups plain or flavored hummus.

Casserole Topping: Combine in a food processor 1 cup artichoke hearts, 1 cup panko bread crumbs, 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, and 1 teaspoon dried oregano; pulse until finely ground; use as a topping for pasta and rice casseroles (such as macaroni and cheese, baked ziti and stuffed peppers).

Salads: Dice and add to chopped salads or sprinkle on top of Cobb and Nicoise salads.

Dips: Fold into dips such as crab dip and spinach dip.

Sauces: Add to the braising liquid for chicken and pork after searing the meat.

Stir-Fries: Add to mixed vegetable stir-fries for the last few minutes of cooking.

Kebabs: Add to beef, chicken and vegetable skewers before grilling.

Robin Miller is host of Quick Fix Meals, a nutritionist and author of 10 cookbooks, including “Robin Takes 5” and “Robin Takes 5 for Busy Families.” She is the busy mom of two active boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinmillercooks.com.

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