Chicken Salad Stuffed Artichokes
Years ago I made a declaration to always live where I could get avocados and artichokes. I’ve held good to my dream and California continues to produce both of these iconic and versatile vegetables though they’re far more available now nearly everywhere. Nevertheless, while most Americans aren’t intimidated by avocados (thank you guacamole), the artichoke can be a thornier proposition for a lot of folks who aren’t quite sure how to tackle the illustrious thistle bud.
Once you have the basics down, you’ll find that artichokes are neither scary or difficult to work with and the results can be spectacular. Because they’re essentially a flower bud (albeit a thistle), they will cook faster if you first cut off part or all of the stem, trim off the small leaves at the base of the artichokes, then soak them in a pot of cool water for an hour with a squeeze of lemon juice or a tablespoon of vinegar to keep them — and the water — from turning bright green. You can then set them on a steamer to cook if you’d like, or empty some of the water so that the artichoke is half submerged in the water. Bring the water to a high simmer, and cook the artichokes until the base is easily pierced with a knife and a leaf pulls away easily. Rinse them in a colander and allow them to fully cool in the refrigerator if you are planning to stuff them. Otherwise, put them on plates and enjoy!
Once the artichokes are cool, place them on a cutting board upside down so that the stem end is in the air. Using a chef’s knife (or, if you’re more comfortable with a serrated knife it also works), carefully cut the artichoke in half lengthwise. Lay the two halves flat on the board. Using a teaspoon or a grapefruit spoon, scoop out all of the thistle being careful to leave as much of the meaty heart in place as possible. Now the artichoke halves are ready to be stuffed.
The following is my preferred chicken salad filling. Feel free to use yours or use mine as a guide and change out whatever ingredients you wish. Fill the artichoke as full as you’d like and serve a small bowl of the Toasted Pecan Everything Sauce on the side for dipping the base of the leaves. The chicken salad recipe makes four ample servings; if the artichokes halves aren’t large, you can always put the remainder in a bowl at the table or save it for sandwiches the next day.
- 4 chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds), poached in water or broth, drained, cooled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 4 scallions thinly sliced or 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium celery stalks, chopped or thinly sliced
- 1/2 sweet bell pepper, chopped
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped, lightly toasted almonds
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 2 - 3 teaspoons lemon juice, or to taste
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Salt and white pepper to taste
- 1 - 2 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon, dill, chives or lemon thyme
- Paprika for garnish
- Using a medium mixing bowl, assemble the ingredients for the salad and mix.
- Using a small bowl, blend mayonnaise, yogurt and other ingredients and mix well. Add to the chicken, vegetables and nuts and blend well. Adjust seasonings. If you need a little more mayonnaise or yogurt, feel free to add it. The filling should be moist enough to add additional flavor to the artichoke halves. Sprinkle paprika over the top of the salad.
- You can stuff the artichokes up to three hours before serving. Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
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