Sense of Home
I've been on a quest to learn to cook foods I have never cooked before, one of those is fresh artichokes. Oh, I've eaten fresh artichokes before at a friend's house, dipping the steamed leaves into homemade mayonnaise, and I have cooked with canned artichokes before, but I have never taken a fresh artichoke and tackled the choke, turning the spiky globe into something eatable.
It is not the easiest task the first time around. I wasn't sure I was doing it right when I seemed to be throwing in the compost bucket more than I was placing in the acidulated water. I ended up with so few slices of artichoke I opened a can of artichoke hearts and added some to the casserole, I wanted to be sure we could actually taste the artichokes in the dish. Below the spiky, purple leaves that gave me more than one nearly impossible to see sliver, is the hairy center that needs to be removed (I found a small paring knife worked well). This is best done with the assistance of someone who knows what they are doing or after watching this how to video. If I had seen the video before attempting the task I would have forged ahead with confidence rather than trepidation.
Ok, it is not that bad, but the next time I buy fresh artichokes, and there will be a next time, I will know what I am doing and I wouldn't spend the whole time thinking that perhaps I got some bad artichokes, because it appears to have gone to seed and there just isn't any usable fleshy heart in the center. I finally sliced the last two artichokes in half to see just what was inside, the heart I was aiming for, which as it turns out is just the base of the artichoke, right above the stem. This is what makes cooking so much fun for me, it is a science experiment, a chance to create, make a mess, and in the end have something interesting, maybe even delicious, to eat.
These large portobello mushrooms really are large and every bit as good as the baby portobello I love to saute in butter, adding a splash of wine towards the end.
This casserole is layered like lasagna, but it is a lighter dish, less cheese and no heavy sauce. The feta cheese paired well with the artichokes and the house smelled fabulous with the white wine, garlic and mushrooms cooking in the oven.
Artichoke, Potato, and Portobello Mushroom Casserole
~from the Sense of Home Kitchen, adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2006~
6 - 8 servings
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 large artichokes
2 pounds of Red potatoes, about 4 or 5 medium-sized, peeled thinly sliced
4 large portobello mushroom caps, thinly sliced
6 ounces Feta cheese
4 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 lemon (for preparing artichokes)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Brush13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Add the juice from half a lemon to a large bowl of cold water. Cut off the artichoke's stem; rub cut surface with the other lemon half. Peel off the leaves. Cut off, or twist and pull out the purple leaves, taking some of the choke with them. Clean out the remainder of the fibrous choke with a small paring knife. Rub the artichoke all over with lemon and drop it into the lemon water.
Using a food processor or mandoline, thinly slice the potatoes. Drain and slice artichoke hearts. Arrange half of the potato slices in the prepared dish, covering the bottom completely. Top with half of the artichoke hearts and half of the mushrooms. Coarsely crumble half the feta over the dish, layering everything as you would for lasagna. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and half of the garlic, then 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cover with remaining mushrooms, then artichoke hearts, feta, garlic, 1 tablespoon Parmesan, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Top with remaining potatoes. Pour wine over; drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cover dish with foil. Bake 40 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Sprinkle top with remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Bake uncovered until potatoes are tender and top is brown, about 25 minutes. Cool slightly and serve.