One of my favorite type of recipes are the ones that include a stuffed vegetable. You’re doing two things at once; using up an abundance of seasonal vegetables and feeding the family at the same time. I love stuffing vegetables with other vegetables as well. You can make an easy meatless meal this way by using other sources for your protein like tofu, beans, or quinoa. For this particular meal I chose quinoa!
I paired the quinoa with some beets that I had laying in my produce drawer. They’d been undisturbed for a while and needed some attention. I personally love beets, not just because they are versatile, but because they are pretty and colorful. If you’d like to check out how I fixed them you can follow this link.
The other part of this particular recipe I love is that it uses artichokes. My family love artichokes. I think they are right up there in the same category as ribs. My suspicion is that it has something to do with the hands-on-hands-messy way that you consume them. That, and I think that they are fascinated with eating a huge flower for dinner. We tend to save things like ribs and artichokes for special “treat” meals. They are definitely not always budget friendly for a larger family, but if you get them at the peak of the season you can usually find them for a pretty good deal. And if you cut them in half and stuff them, they tend to go further in filling tummies.
When I fix artichokes, I spend a little extra time on preparing them. Sometimes it’s nice to make things pretty “just because”, and I would encourage you to do such things for your family, (and yourself), on occasion. Something beautiful on the table can really bring everyone together and be a lovely treat, aside from the treat of the actual food! I start with stemming and topping the artichokes. I trim the thorns from the tops of the leaves. These are both steps that older kids can get involved with as well. My older kids are now to the age where they can reasonably help with some of the dinner prep. Not only does this help me out, but helps them to learn skills int he kitchen that can be helpful to them later on when they are on their own.
The result is a really lovely looking artichoke and no one gets pricked when they are chowing down!
While your artichokes are cooking in a pot of water, prep your quinoa. To add some extra flavor to your quinoa you can cook it in chicken/vegetable stock. Prepare it according to the package directions. It’s usually 2:1 ratio, however I find that I like to add about a half cup more liquid because I like my quinoa softer rather than chewy. It’s your preference though. On that note, this recipe can be eaten right away, but it was definitely more flavorful the next day when all the flavors in the quinoa had marinated. Leftovers are fabulous! The stock and the marinade together make this quinoa really flavorful. Another option would be to cook the quinoa and make the stuffing for the artichokes a day ahead.
In a bowl with your cooled quinoa add chopped spinach, some fresh Thyme, salt, Feta, and mix together. Prepare the dressing separately, and add it to the quinoa fluffing and mixing to coat everything. When making the stuffing, I waited until the last minute to add the beets so that they didn’t dye everything pinkish purple. Set aside.
Drain and and cool your cooked artichokes. When they are cooled enough to handle, cut them in half with a very sharp knife. Remove the inner petals and “hairs”.
Using a large serving spoon, fill each half with the quinoa stuffing and place them on a plate. Sprinkle the top with extra Feta for a pretty presentation. And serve with a side of Garlic and Tarragon Aioli. You can eat this at room temperature, or cooled. Full recipe follows the photographs.