Tuna, White Beans, Artichokes and the “Presto Chango” Effect

Tuna, White Beans, Artichokes and the “Presto Chango” Effect

We decided to paint the kitchen ourselves this past weekend. The quotes we were getting to do the job seemed over the top ridiculous.

Personally, I enjoy painting the rooms of my dwelling space.

I have learned to detest wallpaper and love the instant gratification of paint.

Immediate gratification.

The “Presto Chango” Effect.

Unless something technical needs to be done; I can paint walls and cabinets like a pro. Based upon what we found while doing this project, we certainly did it better than the last “pro” who was hired to paint.

I love doing it. There is another mental space I go to when doing these kind of projects. It is a fun place to go and I don’t stay long so it is best to take advantage when it comes around.

“Let’s go buy paint and get going ” we discussed one morning.

So off we went to the paint store to buy what we needed to transform the kitchen.

Robert was amazed as to how much we actually were able to do in a days time. We began on Saturday, mid-morning, and finished Monday around dinner time, after work.

Over last weekend we dismantled the kitchen; removed cabinet doors and hinges; and such.

This is how the sequence went: Degrease, wash, dry, sand, damp mop dust, dry, prime, paint 2 coats, let dry.

The kitchen is now back in working order and feels great to be cooking again.

Presto Chango. Gotta love it.

This is an easy recipe when you want something quick and easy. (And don’t want to mess up the kitchen.)

The entire dish is easily made in the time it takes to cook the pasta.

You only need a few ingredients.

Cannellini Beans, canned tuna, artichoke hearts, lemon and pasta and cheese if you like.

These are the major ingredients: Artichoke hearts, cannellini beans, anchovies, pasta, here we are using “orecchiette” and Tuna, which is not pictured.

Tuna, White Beans, Artichokes and Pasta

  • 1 – 2 ounce tin of anchovies in oil
  • 1/2 onion or shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced or minced
  • 1 – 5 ounce can of “Wild Planet” wild caught tuna. This tuna is not oil packed. (Use your favorite Tuna)
  • 1-14 ounce can of artichoke hearts – packed in water, not oil
  • 1-15 ounce can Bushes Cannellini Beans (also known as white kidney beans)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 package of your favorite pasta shape. I like Orecchiette for this because of the shape and the ability to hold on to sauce. (The pasta looks like little hats when cooked.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan or Asiago cheese to shred over top

Bring the water for the pasta to a boil, salt the water and add pasta.

Note how long the pasta takes to cook so it does not get over done and mushy.

Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add the anchovies and saute until they “dissolve” while being cooked.

Add the  onions and garlic. Saute until the onions are soft and the garlic is fragrant.

Add the artichokes, beans and tuna and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer.

Add the lemon zest and juice.

Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

When the pasta is done, drain and fold it into the pan with the other ingredients.

Top with shredded cheese and serve.

A salad on the side rounds the meal out nicely.

Tuna, white beans and artichoke pasta

Artichokes!

Artichokes from the market

I found the most amazing artichokes in the farmers market this week. They were huge and hybrids. These artichokes did not have any of the thorns or much of a “choke’ inside either.

The woman at the market asked me “how do you cook them so they are tender?”

Steam them.

I had to find a domed lid to fit the steamer; the artichoke was so big!

All I did with this artichoke is cut the stem so it would fit in the pot with the lid on it and steam. It had to be steamed for about an hour and 15 minutes. Once the water came to a boil, the heat was turned down to low. You will need to check the water level to be sure you don’t burn up a good pot.

If you find the non-hybrid type that have the small thorn on each leaf, you will need to use the kitchen shears and clip them off. After your cut a few, wipe the edges with a cut lemon to prevent the artichoke from turning black.

Any cut you make on a raw artichoke, swipe it with a piece of cut lemon to preserve the color and keep it from oxidizing.

You can tell the artichoke is done cooking when the leaves pull off easily and a knife is easily inserted into the base of the artichoke with no resistance. Do this from the bottom so as not to ruin the presentation.

There are a lot of things you can do with an artichoke but today, I am just steaming it and serving it with a couple of sauces.

We will eat it as an hors d’ oeuvre with aperitif before dinner. Serving like this is also an interesting way to put out a snack when guests and friends come visit. We usually gather in the front yard about an hour or so before dinner and friends join us for great conversations, drinks and sometimes an hors d’ oeuvre or two.

A word of caution, artichokes make cheap red wine taste great and good red wine taste awful. So if you are serving artichokes, serve a decent inexpensive red wine.

Please don’t go down as low as Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck. That is truly awful stuff. The only thing that makes that better is pouring it down the drain.

The sauces:

Yogurt Sour Cream Sauce

  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Sprinkle of sweet paprika for garnish

Mix it all together. Sprinkle sweet paprika lightly over the top.

Let is rest to allow the flavors to blend.

Dip artichoke leaves in sauce.

Lemon Butter Sauce

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

Melt the butter, add the juice of the lemon and 1/2 of the zest. Warm through.

Place a couple of slices of lemon in the bowl to serve. Dip artichoke leaves into sauce.

How do you eat a whole artichoke?

Starting at the bottom base, carefully pull a leaf off. It should separate easily. Dip in sauce if desired.

Place the inside of the leaf against your bottom teeth, lightly bite down and scrape the artichoke flesh off the leaf with your bottom teeth and discard the remaining leaf. You have to pull the leaf to effectively scrape it against your teeth.

As you consume the leaves, the bottom will become visible. Once all the leaves have been consumed, you will find a “choke” in the very center. It is anchored by the bottom of the artichoke.

The "choke"
Notice how fuzzy it is; not leaf like at all

Scrape the choke away from the bottom; discard

The cleaned artichoke bottom

This is how it looks upside down

Cut artichoke bottom ready to use in salads, dips, etc.

You do not eat the choke because it is inedible and if you attempt to eat it, you will choke!

Scrape away the choke and eat the bottom. For this part, you will need a knife and fork.

You can always save it for slicing, mashing into Spinach Artichoke dip, salads or leave it whole and stuff it for a completely different dish.

If you have any leaves left over, scrape the flesh from the leaves with a spoon and make soup, salad dressings or use the artichoke scrapings in stuffing. There isn’t much shape to the scraping, use it like you would something mashed.

You can try making them the Roman way too. (Thanks, Barbara!)

Steamed Artichoke with Yogurt Sour Cream Dip and Crispy Kale Chips