Saturday, May 2, 2009

Two Great Appetizers

Artichokes and cauliflower are two of my favorite spring vegetables. In the two following recipes, they both are prepared into terrific appetizers, or would be great in a tapas spread. For the first, artichokes are combined with smooth and creamy pine nuts to make a wonderful pesto, which is then stuffed into cremini mushrooms. This pesto, if you have any left over, keeps well in a glass jar with a little olive oil on top. Left overs can be used as a sandwich spread, as a crostini topping, or even on pasta.

The second is a pungent and intriguing plate of large cauliflower florets roasted with yellow curry powder. Great served warm, or even at room temperature.

Artichoke-Pine Nut Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

For the Pesto
-1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large shallot lobe, minced -
-2 medium artichokes, trimmed and quartered
-1 strip lemon peel
- ½ cup pine nuts
-1 teaspoons minced fresh chives
-1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
-1 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
-Salt and fresh ground white pepper

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add in the minced shallot lobe. Sauté, stirring often, until the shallots are soft, about 3 minutes. Add in the artichokes and strips of lemon peel. Just cover with water or vegetable stock, season with a pinch of salt, and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and simmer the artichokes until tender and only a tablespoon or so of liquid remains. Remove the lemon peel.

Place the warm artichokes into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S blade. Add in the fresh herbs and a little salt and white pepper. Pulse the processor to grind the artichokes into a coarse puree. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

For the Mushrooms
-15-20 cremini or white button mushrooms, stems removed
-1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-Salt and fresh ground white pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 375̊F.

Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel or wash cloth. Toss the mushrooms with 1-2 tablespoon extra virgin olive. Use just enough oil to coast the mushrooms. Season with a little salt and fresh ground white pepper.

Place the mushrooms in a large baking dish in one single layer, stem end facing up. Cover with foil and bake in the oven until the mushrooms are tender, about 15minutes. Remove the foil, and pour out the juice that has collected in each mushroom. I save this juice to add to stock, or to make vinaigrettes, or even to thin the artichoke pesto if it is too thick.

Fill each mushroom with a good spoonful of the pesto. Cover the dish back up with foil, place in the oven, and warm the mushrooms through, 5-10 minutes more. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Curry Roasted Cauliflower Florets
-1 head of white cauliflower
-1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-1 ½ - 2 tablespoons curry powder
-Salt and fresh ground white pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 400̊F.

Remove the leaves from the cauliflower. Divide the cauliflower into large florets. Toss the florets with the extra virgin olive oil, curry powder, salt, and fresh ground white pepper.

Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Place the cauliflower in a single layer on the baking sheets.Place the cauliflower in the oven and roast, stiring from time to time, until slightly brown and the cauliflower is tender. Serve hot or at room temperature.


Jen said...

These look fantastic!

Correne Quigley-Faysal said...

Thanks Jen!

Jen said...

I'm making these for my baby shower on Sat...I have a feeling that I'll have to make a ton so they don't run out!!! Hope mine look this good! :D

Correne Quigley-Faysal said...

Awesome, let me know how they turn out!!!

AndreaQ said...

Those mushrooms sound fantastic and healthy!

Jen said...

SUCCESS!!! Just as I thought, the mushrooms were the first to go.

Problem: the artichoke pesto was so yummy that I kept eating it...which meant that I had to go out and buy more ingredients for a new batch. Oops. ;)

Thanks for the recipe!

Correne Quigley-Faysal said...

Thanks Jen!! I am so glad they worked out and that everyone liked them. I always make extra so I can eat it with a spoon!!