Chosen Bites: Spring has sprung

Nothing tastes better than brightly flavored fresh artichokes and mint on a beautiful spring day.

Artichokes (photo credit: Laura Frankel)
(photo credit: Laura Frankel)
Nothing seems more optimistic than a beautiful spring day. Nothing tastes better than brightly flavored fresh artichokes and mint. This duo is a match made in heaven.Somehow the flavors taste just right with warmer temperatures and sunshine.
This quick and easy casserole is delicious and heralds the spring. With a little knife work on the artichokes, you will have a sprightly dinner to serve. The casserole can be made up to two days ahead of serving and can be stored, if covered, in the refrigerator.
This recipe is easily adapted for Passover by substituting the breadcrumbs for crumbled matza and or nuts such as pistachios.
Artichoke and Mint CasseroleServes 4-5
2 pounds baby artichokes or frozen artichoke heartsExtra virgin olive oil for sautéing + 3 tablespoons3 cloves garlic, minced1 tablespoon tomato paste½ cup white wine¼ cup chicken stock½ cup golden raisins1 pound ground turkey¼ cup pine-nuts, toasted½ cup panko style breadcrumbs¼ cup fresh mint-torn or cut into thin strips (chiffonade)½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley2 tablespoons chopped fresh thymeSalt and pepper
Preheat oven to 177 C.
1. To clean the artichokes, use a paring knife to cut the outside leaves free from the body of the vegetable. Continue turning your knife around the artichoke until you have an equal amount of green leaves with yellow tops. Be sure to leave the stem intact.
You can peel some of the tough green fibers from the outside. The stem gives the artichoke a pretty shape. Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise and scoop out the choke (if any) with a melon baller. Place the artichoke pieces in a bowl of cold water with lemon juice squeezed into it to keep the artichokes from turning dark.
2. Place a large sauté pan over medium high heat and coat the bottom lightly with olive oil. Sauté the artichokes until they are lightly browned and have softened. Add the garlic, tomato paste, white wine and chicken stock. Stir together. Add the raisins, turkey and pine-nuts. Transfer the mixture to a lightly greased casserole.
3. In a separate bowl, stir the fresh herbs, breadcrumbs and 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil together. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the casserole. Place the casserole in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the breadcrumb mixture is browned and slightly crispy.
4. Serve the casserole garnished with additional extra virgin oil and fresh mint.
Chef Laura Frankel is Executive Chef for Spertus Kosher Catering and author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes.