Artichoke Puttanesca–Forget its Saucy Reputation

Artichoke Puttanesca–Forget its Saucy Reputation

Artichoke Puttanesca–Forget its Saucy Reputation

Serves 6 as a complete meal with the pasta option

A delicious mix of tangy, spicy and savory ingredients makes Puttanesca sauce (sugo alla puttanesca) a meal-time habit that can be made from your pantry. This popular Italian sauce commonly pairs with pasta but consider using it as a topping for pizzas, tartines, a side salad and with grilled salmon.

Artichoke Puttanesca

Its reputation of being linked to red-light district “workers” isn’t deserved.

Puttana translates to prostitute, but puttanata is associated with as in “rubbish” or “crap” as in someone tossing together whatever stuff (puttanatta qualsiasi) they can find in the pantry to cook.

Cooking from the pantry or “whatever” ingredients you have around is a key reason this is a favorite meal in my house.

The adjective form of the noun, puttanesca has become popularized for this dish and alla like the French à la, simply means “in the style of”.

This is not traditional puttanesca sauce if you want to pay tribute to the most authentic forms of it; however, it retains key flavor and texture elements. The changes I’ve made are:

  • I use peperoncini’s instead of red chile flakes as I wanted some green colors and heat that came with a bright briny tang.
  • I substitute in green olives, again for color, and because I like the flavors more than the traditional black olives used.
  • I’ve not added onions although these would be nice, I’m sticking with ingredients that one finds in cans, jars or bottles in their pantry or have long shelf life like garlic.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 (2 ounce) can anchovies
3 tablespoons capers (nonpareil–small ones), rinsed well (the brine is not pleasant tasting)
5 large cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
½ cup pitted Spanish or Greek olives, chopped
1 (28-ounce) can diced (fire roasted are a nice touch), crushed or whole tomatoes
8 medium Peperoncinis, caps removed, sliced
10 ounces high fiber rigatoni (chunky pasta for a chunky sauce)
2 (14-ounce) cans of artichoke hearts, squeezed to reduce liquids and cut in half
Substitutions:
for peperoncinis: use ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (traditional for this dish)
for green olives, use kalamate or black (traditional for this dish)
Optional non-pantry items: ¼ cup Basil, chiffonade ribbons

Steps

  1. Prepare the capers, garlic, olives, peperoncinis and artichokes.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet (large enough to hold the cooked pasta) over medium heat. Add the anchovies, capers and garlic, sauté about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the olives, tomatoes (if whole tomatoes, crush in your hands and include juice from the can) and peperoncinis and cook until sauce is bubbling. Reduce to medium-low heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until sauce has thickened—it may bubble and spit a bit.
  4. While sauce is reducing, start the pasta. Over high heat, bring a large pot of water to a boil (pasta will soak up the seasoned sauce, so salted water is optional), add pasta, Cook until nearly al dente.
  5. When sauce is thickened and just before adding the pasta, add the artichoke hearts and stir.
  6. When the pasta is done, drain it or lift it with a pasta spoon and add it to the sauce, gently mixing with the sauce to combine.

Serving Ideas

  • Instead of using pasta in this dish, serve as a side dish, serve with pan-seared or grilled salmon, or use as a topping for pizza or tartines.

Artichoke Puttanesca | TheTasteWorkshop.com

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

The Sweet and Meaty Taste Science of Grilled Vegetables

The Sweet and Meaty Taste Science of Grilled Vegetables

The Sweet and Meaty Taste Science of Grilled Vegetables

“Let’s grill tonight” translates to “let’s eat meat tonight”

in many backyard BBQs. It’s not surprising since grilled meat products create hundreds of complex aroma and flavor compounds. Grilled vegetables create less of these craveable compounds but develop delicious flavor profiles that can make them popular with kids and adult “veg-avoiders.” Whether using wood, coal or gas heat sources for grilling meat products or vegetables, the flavor differences are determined by browning reactions that depend on carbohydrates and protein.

Vegetables and meats exposed to high heat in a dry environment develop unique flavors from non-enzymatic browning reactions known as the Maillard reaction and caramelization.

Caramelization relies on sugar for creating tasty molecules whereas, the Maillard reaction requires protein and a hint of sugar for flavor development.

grilled sweet potato

Flavorful Proteins

Vegetables meet two of these Maillard reaction requirements; however, the low protein content compared to meat products limits the flavor development. Meat, poultry and fish, when exposed to a high and dry heat, yield hundreds of complex Maillard aroma and flavor compounds ranging from savory and meaty to floral and earthy. Because meat products also include the simple sugar ribose, some caramelization flavors also may be detectable.

Flavorful Sugars

Caramelization is a browning process from heating sucrose or sugars such as fructose or glucose, also known as reducing sugars. Caramelization requires higher temperatures than Maillard reactions. Annette Hottenstein, Sensory Scientist and Registered Dietitian, explains that grilling typically exposes vegetables to higher heat than other cooking methods and at these high temperatures, new complex volatile flavor components become available as natural sugars caramelize.

Caramelization flavor compounds are less complex than those from Maillard reactions, but don’t disappoint with a flavor range that includes butterscotch, sherry, rum or toasty notes.

Vegetables with high levels of reducing sugars and protein such as corn, sweet potato, onions and eggplants create tasty flavors from both types of browning reactions.

Veg grilled Eggplant Michele Redmond

“Meaty” Grilled Vegetables

Like meats, some vegetables can develop a “meaty” taste element thanks to sulfur. Vegetables with an amino acid linked to sulfur such as cysteine create more savory elements or a meatiness. Cysteine is plentiful in cruciferous vegetables and alliums like onions.

Cysteine found in onions and combined with naturally high sugar content transform onions on the grill but also explain why caramelized onions are popular additions in many meals.

Grilled vegetables also offer pleasant contrasting textures. Hottenstein shared that she particularly enjoys the crispy tips of grilled asparagus and how the heat of the grill intensifies the green flavor components while adding a smoky dimension.

Veg grilled Asparagus

Vegetable Grilling Tips

Here’s some veggie grilling flavor techniques to make “let’s grill tonight” translates to “let’s cook delicious foods” where vegetables are hogging the grill grate.

  • Fresher is better: Some vegetables, like sweet corn, rapidly convert natural sugars to starch after harvest. Less natural sugars result in less flavor and sometimes a mealy texture
  • Par-cook: For dense or slow-cooking vegetables such as carrots or potatoes, partially pre-cook then grill or grill the surfaces for color and flavor, then finish cooking on the warming rack.
  • Coat or naked: Dry the surface of vegetables before coating lightly with oil or a marinade. Or instead grill them naked like whole eggplants or peppers for smoky, charred skin aroma compounds.
  • Veggie densityVegetables such as zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes that are less dense due to high water content grill quickly in general and even faster if sliced or quartered. It’s best to not mix them with dense vegetables, such as root vegetables, to ensure even grilling results.
grilled potato fingerlings | Tasteworkshop.com

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

Corn, Tomato and Spinach Olive-Oil Galette

Corn, Tomato and Spinach Olive-Oil Galette

Corn, Tomato and Spinach Olive-Oil Galette

Olive-oil galette–Is it a tart? A pizza with a folded edge? A pie you eat for dinner?

Olive-oil Galette

It’s delicious no matter what you call it and, depending on your fillings, this olive-oil galette works for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

This quick, easy tart base can be made anytime with basic pantry ingredients since butter isn’t a primary ingredient. It works as a weekday meal but fits many occasions from picnics (simply eat slices by hand) to an elegant dinner with wine and real silverware.

Another advantage of adding an olive-oil galettes to your menu, other than sounding fancy French when you say “Galette” (a French word that actually sounds like it looks), is how easy it is to prepare for all eating styles from plant-only to eat everythingtarian.

 

Corn, Tomato and Spinach Olive-Oil Galette

Serves 12 as appetizer or 6-8 as a meal with a side

Crust Ingredients

 2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup fresh-grated parmesan
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup plus 1-2 tablespoons ice water

Optional: Add 2 teaspoons toasted fennel seed or 1½ teaspoon toasted cumin seed

Galette Filling
2 teaspoons olive oil
12 ounces grape tomatoes, cut in half (about 2 ½ cups whole)
2 ears corn kernels (about 1¼ cup or 1 can drained and dried)
3 large garlic cloves, minced fine
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced (or ½ teaspoon dried thyme)
¼ teaspoon salt
10 ounces (about 8 cups) spinach
Optional: ½ cup fresh peas, blanched in salted water
4 eggs, prepare one for egg wash
¾ cup ricotta
1 cup grated gruyere (2.25 ounces), divided

Crust Steps:

  1. Add flour, salt, parmesan and any spices to a food processor; pulse until blended. Pour in olive oil while pulsing to mix into flour, you may need to break up large clumps. Then slowly pour in ½ cup cold water. Dough will start to pull away from sides and clump together, but if not, add a bit more water up to 2 tablespoons. Dough should feel smooth, moist but not tacky. Remove from food processor.
  2. Knead dough for about 30 seconds then form into a ball. Press the ball of dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 2 days maximum or freeze for later use.

Filling and Tart Steps:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil. When oil is warm, add halved tomatoes, corn, garlic, pepper flakes, thyme and salt. Cook 8-10 minutes to reduce liquid. Add spinach, use tongs to toss to evenly wilt it—about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 375˚ Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or coat one with olive oil. Place dough a floured counter, press the disc to flatten enough to roll out with a rolling pin. Sprinkle some flour on the dough or rolling pin and roll from the center towards the edges to create a circular, but imperfect, shape about 15” wide and ¼ inch thick—look for an even thickness overall. Pick up an edge and lift it to over the pin (think curtain rod) to lift the dough and place flat on the baking sheet.
  3. Mix together 3 eggs, add ricotta and all but ½ cup of gruyere, add cooled cooked ingredients, mix.
  4. Pour mix onto the center of the dough, spread it within 2 inches of edge. Fold dough border up over the filling either in small square sections or pleated sections. Brush the dough with egg wash.
  5. Bake 30 minutes, then top with the remaining ½ cup gruyere. Bake another 10 minutes or until crust is golden brown and center feels firm. Let cool before serving.

Serving options:  Serve warm or at room temperature. Stores well for 3-4 days before crust begins to soften or break down.

Related Recipe: Here’s another recipe that could be a tart or pizza: https://thetasteworkshop.com/corn-and-cremini-chickpea-cauliflower-pizza/ 

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

Pineapple Ginger Salsa Recipe

Pineapple Ginger Salsa Recipe

Pineapple Ginger Salsa Recipe

Tomato-based salsas offer familiar flavors and textures, but bust out of that comfort zone with a sweet, tangy pineapple ginger salsa for a zippy dip and fun side dish or garnish. Flavorful heat from chile peppers, garlic, scallion and ginger are balanced by the fruity nectar of ripe pineapple and savory fresh tomatoes.

Pineapple ginger salsa recipe

It screams “don’t touch me!” Maui pineapple from my Dole Plantation Tour

Selecting Pineapples

Advice for selecting pineapples at optimal ripeness can be conflicting. I suggest relying mostly on your nose to check if the aroma from its base exudes a sweet, pineapple aroma. If it has hints of vinegar, has an overly soft texture and is bright green or orange rather than yellow, pass on it.

Pineapple’s pointy leaves and spiky scales make it fail the friendly-fruit test of tucking into a pocket or packing with your lunch. This awkward fruit gets weirder when you consider the scales are individual berries that bind to its central core. You can nibble the core’s sweet bits like an ear of corn, but it’s also used in fermented drinks like tapache.

There are some tricks to cutting pineapple, but a heavy sharp knife is your best friend here. Make this dish more festive by turning the pineapple into a bowl or “pineapple boat” to serve the salsa.

 

Pineapple Ginger Salsa

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients

2 cups diced fresh pineapple (about ½ a medium-sized pineapple)
6 roma tomatoes diced or chopped (about 4 cups)
2 large scallions, sliced thin, white and green parts (about 2 tablespoons)1-2 green serrano chile peppers, minced fine (about 1½ teaspoon)
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons fine grated fresh ginger (about 1-inch nob)
1 small lime, juiced (about 1 tablespoon)
Few pinches of large grain sea salt

Steps

Pineapple ginger salsa recipe1. Trim option #1: Trim off the top and bottom of the pineapple, then slice the outer scales off to reveal the flesh. Cut large sections from off the hard core. Dice or small chop enough pineapple for 2 cups and add to a mixing bowl.
2. Trim option #2: Pineapple bowl: take a sharp knife and cut the pineapple in half from top to bottom. Use a pairing knife to cut around the inside rim, leaving about a half inch boarder and being careful not to cut through the outer skin. Then divide the inside area up by cutting a grid with half inch-sized squares. Use a sturdy large metal spoon to scoop out the flesh. Dice or small chop enough pineapple for 2 cups and add to a mixing bowl.
3. Dice the tomatoes, slice the scallions, mince the peppers (remove seeds), mince garlic, grate ginger and juice the lime. Add all ingredients plus the salt to the bowl and gently toss.
4. Taste. If pineapple is less sweet or more tangy than desired, drizzle on some honey and, or another pinch of salt.

Serving Ideas

  • Grill the pineapple half before cutting up.
  • Serve as a side dish with grilled salmon.
  • Add grilled or poached shrimp to the salsa to make it a salad.

Related Article: Why chile peppers help you burn calories. Salsa! Dance it or Eat it—Both Burn Calories

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

Lentil Mushroom Walnut Pate: Savory Bean-Meat Swaps

Lentil Mushroom Walnut Pate: Savory Bean-Meat Swaps

Lentil Mushroom Walnut Pate: Savory Bean-Meat Swaps

Lentil pink peppercorn pateSwapping out a meat-based ingredient for a plant-based one is a balancing act of texture, taste qualities (like umami) and flavors from aromatic compounds. Particularly with liver—can you think of any plant that tastes or smells like it? Please let me know if you do.

Liver is a cheap ingredient that many cultures embrace and adore but can be an acquired taste due to its strong odors, unique and sometimes metallic flavors and texture challenges. My first whiff of liver was thanks to my childhood friend Mary whose father regularly cooked the beef version as a breakfast “treat” on his favorite cast-iron pan.

I dreaded being asked to try it, but never was asked. I didn’t taste liver until I lived in Paris, where you were expected to appreciate pâté.

Pâté commonly uses chicken liver which has distinct poultry flavors, but this umami-rich lentil version is popular at parties among traditional pâté-lovers and non-meat eaters. Walnuts and mushrooms add texture and savory notes (particularly umami from plant-based glutamate). Cornichons and lemon add brightness, cayenne gives a hint of eat, Madeira offers a soupçon of sweet and pink peppercorns surprise with complex flavors like resin.

Lentil Mushroom Walnut Pâté

Makes nearly 2 ¾ cups

Pate Ingredients

¾ cup dried green lentils (if using cooked about 2 cups)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup walnut pieces (about 5 ounces), toasted
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari
1 teaspoon fresh minced thyme
few pinches cayenne pepper (less than ⅛ teaspoon)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
12-14 (about 10 ounces) medium-sized cremini mushrooms
¼ teaspoon salt
1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon Madeira or marsala
8-10 cornichons, diced fine (about 3 tablespoons)
1 ½ teaspoons pink peppercorns, lightly crushed

Prep Steps

  1. Check lentils for debris, put in pot, add 3 cups water and the salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to maintain a rapid simmer for 20-24 minutes or until lentils are tender (more tender than if using in a salad). Drain well in a colander to remove excess water. This can be done a day in advance.
  2. Toast walnuts in a skillet. Add walnuts, lentils, lemon juice, tamari, thyme and cayenne to a blender.
  3. Clean and dry mushrooms and cut into 1/4”-1/2” thick slices. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add mushrooms and sprinkle with the salt. Cook without stirring until browned on one side (about 6-8 minutes), toss them and cook 4-6 more minutes. Add to blender.
  4. Reduce heat to medium, add remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet then the onions and garlic, cook 4-6 minutes. Add madeira and sweat the onions about 6 more minutes or until onions are soft and liquids have evaporated. Add to blender and process pâté until smooth.
  5. Scrape mixture into a mixing bowl. Mix in one teaspoon of peppercorns and 2 tablespoons of cornichons. Use remaining ½ teaspoon of peppercorns and tablespoon of cornichons as garnish. Refrigerate until use, keep for 7 days in the refrigerator or freeze for a couple months.

Pate Serving Options

1. Serve pâté with crostini, baguette slices, toasts, crackers or on slices of cucumber.
2.It also works as a sandwich spread or a filling to stuff cherry tomatoes.

Other Veggie-Meat Swaps

Try this other savory use of walnuts to mimic meaty-umami flavors in my walnut, mushroom ragout.

About Me

The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
Michele Redmond

Michele Redmond

French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

It's about Making Food First

Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

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