Photo Credit: Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post
This recipe requires minimal prep and yields maximum pleasure and healthfulness. The savory yogurt dip is enriched with extra-virgin olive oil, flavored deeply with sauteed shallots, and made green with parsley and aromatic with a pinch of saffron.
4 large artichokes (about 3 pounds total)
Pinch saffron threads
1 tablespoon boiling water
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, minced (1/4 cup)
3/4 cup plain low-fat Greek-style yogurt
Leaves from about 5 stems flat-leaf parsley (1/3 packed cup)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Cut off the artichoke stems so the vegetables can sit upright. Peel off the woody, green exterior of each stem and keep the tender cores. Cut off and discard the top 3/4-inch of each artichoke, then rub the cut tops well with the cut side of the lemon half (to keep the vegetable from discoloring). Squeeze 1/2 tablespoon of juice from the lemon half and reserve. Use scissors to snip off the sharp top from each artichoke leaf.
Arrange the artichokes and pieces of peeled stems in a large steamer basket set over at least 3 cups of water in a pot, over medium heat. Cover and steam for 35 to 40 minutes or until the leaves can be easily removed and the artichoke hearts are tender when pierced with a knife. About halfway through the cooking, check the water level and add more as needed. Transfer the artichokes and stems to a serving dish.
Meanwhile, stir together the saffron and boiling water in a small bowl. Let it sit for a few minutes.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the shallot; cook for 3 minutes or until it’s softened and beginning to pick up color. Remove from the heat.
Combine the saffron and its water, the shallot, yogurt, parsley, the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, the reserved lemon juice and the salt in a mini food processor; puree until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl and season lightly with pepper. Serve as a dip with the artichokes and peeled stems.
Makes 4 servings
Per serving: Calories 240; Total Fat 15 g; (Sat Fat 3 g); Protein 10 g; Carb 21 g; Fiber 9 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 230 mg