Saturday, June 23, 2012

Grilled Artichoke Pesto Stuffed Baby Portobellas

June is wedding season...times for showers, ladies luncheons and outdoor weddings.  One thing I have learned over the years in catering is that woman like something light, full of flavor and elegant.  These Baby Portabellos are stuffed with a savory flavor packed punch of Grilled Artichoke Pesto.

I love these Grilled Artichokes as an antipasto but I decided to use them to make a pesto and stuff them with these little portabellos.  I've made artichoke pesto before with just artichoke hearts but taking my antipasto artichoke recipe and using them to make the pesto made this dish really stand out.  

This might seem a like a lot of steps but it's really not that difficult and the flavor is worth all the effort.  Make these Grilled Artichokes - Keep them in a jar in your fridge.  Add to salads or a GF pasta dish.

Marinated Grilled Artichoke Hearts
1 lb Artichoke Heart Quarters
1 Garlic Glove, Minced
1/4 Cup Fresh Basil
1 Tbsp Red Onions, Diced
3/4 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 Cup Lemon Juice
3 Tbsp GF Tamari Sauce
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 tsp Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

Drain artichokes or thaw from frozen.  Blot dry with a paper towel.
Over a medium high heat grill, grill the artichoke hearts until slightly charred.
 Transfer to a bowl and while still hot or warm, toss in all the ingredients and mix well.  Allow the artichokes to marinate for at least 4 hours.  Serve room temperature.  Toss with other grilled vegetables or add to GF Pasta.

Grilled Artichoke Pesto
1 Cup Grilled Marinated Artichokes
1/4 Cup Fresh Basil
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1/4 Cup Pecan Pieces
2-3 Garlic Cloves (Depending on size)
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In a food processor, add Grilled Marinated Artichokes, Fresh Basil, Parmesan Cheese, Pecan Pieces and Garlic Cloves.  Pulse LIGHTLY - these don't need to be over processed, you want a chunky consistency.  Once ingredients are combined, transfer to a bowl, then add the Extra Virgin Olive Oil, season with Himalayan Pink Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.

Stuffed Baby Portabellos

Remove stems from the Mushrooms (toss or add to your eggs the next day).  Toss Mushrooms with olive oil and place in a baking dish.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove and stuff with a generous scoop of Grilled Artichoke Pesto.  Bake an additional 5 minutes.  That's it!  No longer and don't stuff prior to baking or you will not experience the full flavors of the pesto.  

For a ladies luncheon, I served these on a bed of lightly dressed baby kale & greens then I garnished it with some pickled red onions.  These were a big hit and I have to say, probably one of my favorite dishes.  It's perfect as an appetizer, salad, side or vegetarian entree.


Zucchini Carpaccio

Sometimes don't you want a salad that is more than mixed greens and salad dressing without adding a bunch of calories and fat? Well, I decided to change it up a bit and make a carpaccio style salad with Zucchini, Fried Capers, Arugula and Grape Tomatoes. I drizzled it with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lemon Juice and Sherry Vinegar, then garnished it with fresh Basil, Himalayan Pink Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.

Zucchini – Is a cucumber like vegetable that is actually, botanically considered a fruit. This slender shaped fruit has many health benefits and one zucchini is 25 calories, ideal stomach filler for those looking to lose weight. Zucchini helps to cure asthma and fight against cardiovascular disease containing Vitamin C which is an anti-inflammatory property.
This vegetable is high in Potassium, Folate, Vitamin A and Vitamin B6.
Capers on the other hand have been used throughout history to promote healthy liver function. They contain two bioflavonoids, rutin and quarcetin which have strong antioxidant properties. They are high in sodium which need to be used sparingly and can be used in place of salt in a dish.

Having an outdoor dinner party?  Serve this as a light first course.  Arrange on a large platter or make  individual small plates for your guests. Super simple with a great presentation!

Zucchini, Sliced Super Thin (I used a mandolin slicer - $10 Tuesday Morning)
Fresh Arugula
Fresh Basil, Chiffonade Cut
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Lemon Juice
Sherry Vinegar
Grape Tomatoes
Himalayan Pink Sea Salt
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

Fry capers in olive oil until crispy and transfer to a paper towel to blot dry.   

Slice Zucchini on mandolin and arrange on platter or plate.  Arrange Grape Tomatoes in the corners for color.  Sprinkle with fresh sliced Basil.  Toss Arugula with Olive Oil, squeezed lemon, Sherry Vinegar until lightly coated.

Drizzle Olive Oil, squeeze lemon and drizzle Sherry Vinegar lightly over sliced Zucchini.  Place dressed Arugula in the center, garnish with Fried Caper Berries and season with Himalayan Pink Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.

Try it - You'll like it!  Stormy