Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Braised Lemony Artichokes with Tomatoes and Basil

You have to like artichokes to appreciate this dish, and for your sake, I hope you do. And while I'm not the biggest 30-minute meal (RR) or Sandra Lee fan on the planet, there's something ingenious about being able to throw together a side dish as luscious and comforting as this one in less than 25 minutes, with the help of frozen artichokes and canned diced tomatoes.

I have to say I can finally identify with this type quick cooking, as a woman who thought I'd wind up on the Barefoot Contessa side of things, throwing fabulous dinner parties on weekends and even the occasional weeknight, but who instead is still slugging it out in advertising (and thankful for that option), working insane work weeks upwards of 85 hours.

So, until I win the lottery or am discovered for my incredible kareoke talents, I owe immense gratitude to dishes like these. (And if that damned lottery ever does come through - you're all invited over weekly until the day I die.)

Braised Lemon Artichokes with Tomatoes and Basil
Serves 3-4.

2 tablespoons olive oil
8 oz frozen artichokes
sea salt
1/3 cup white wine
big squeeze lemon juice
1 14.5 oz diced tomatoes, drained
lavendar sea salt, or plain sea salt if that's all that's on hand
big handful fresh basil leaves, torn

Heat the olive oil in a large rimmed skillet over medium high heat for 1 minute. Add the artichokes, season with salt and pepper, reduce heat slightly, and saute for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they've begun to brown.

Add the white wine and lemon juice, and increase heat if necessary to bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes, until liquid is reduced by half. Dump in the diced tomates and a pinch of lavendar sea salt (or rock salt, or even just plain salt if that's all you have on hand.) Cover and let heat through for 5 minutes, then stir in the basil and cook down for a couple of minutes. You can always put the heat on low and cover if you're waiting for the rest of your meal to come together. This dish is wonderfully forgiving that way.

Nerdy Culinary Aside - I wasn't sure if the method of cooking this dish was legitimate braising or not, but based on this definition from wiki, I think it qualifies?

braise   [breyz] Show IPA Pronunciation
–verb (used with object), braised, brais⋅ing.
to cook (meat, fish, or vegetables) by sautéeing in fat and then simmering slowly in very little liquid.

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