Thursday, June 9, 2011

Artichokes with Summer Garlic and Tarragon Dipping Sauce

Those who know me know I'm in weight shedding mode. More on that some other time, but it's been, well, an adventure for someone who adores good food, is around it all the time, and writes about it.

And I mean that in a good way for the most part. There's so much delicious food out there--not all made up of lots of carbs and fat--that it's not terribly difficult to find combinations that are both a treat to eat and even, dare I say it, healthy.

It gets even easier as we head into the warm weather months, when gorgeous produce is plentiful. I'm not a vegetarian, but on a sultry evening I appreciate a light, meat-free meal that doesn't require much or any laboring over a stove. And steaming an artichoke only requires work from the stove, not me, so that's just fine. The challenge has been what to dip the leaves in. Melted butter with garlic salt--what I grew up on--is out. Plain yogurt doesn't do it for me. Ah, but yogurt mixed with other flavorful ingredients can be transformed into a rich, velvety dip that doesn't feel at all virtuous.

I've been playing with different ingredients--and different yogurts--and came up with something I keep returning to that has the texture I crave with a garlicky anise-like flavor that feels decadent: Fage 2% Greek Yogurt (very light and almost fluffy; you can go with the nonfat version but for one serving the difference in fat isn't great and the difference in texture and flavor is), light mayonnaise, Majestic Garlic (a local company's paste of organic garlic, safflower oil, organic flax seed oil, omega 3, lemon juice, and sea salt), Meyer lemon juice, chopped tarragon, and a little salt and pepper. If you can't find Majestic Garlic, raw minced garlic and a little olive oil will do fine.

To prepare the artichoke, just slice off the first half inch or so of the top and trim both the tips of the leaves and the stem (be sure to peel and cook the stem; it's as tender and sweet as the heart). Place the artichoke in a large pot and fill with cold water to cover. Cover and bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the artichoke. It's fully cooked when you can easily slide a fork into the bottom of the choke. Drain and serve with the dip and some crusty sourdough bread.


Summer Garlic and Tarragon Dipping Sauce
2 servings (if you're generous)

2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1/3 cup low-fat yogurt
1 teaspoon Majestic Garlic (found at San Diego farmers markets)
1 teaspoon Meyer lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together ingredients and chill for an hour before serving.

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