Each week, I’ll present a low-cost meal (or a meal that demonstrates a lot of options for cutting costs) that my family eats for dinner and enjoys. Many of the recipes will be vegan or vegetarian, with options to add other ingredients for non-vegetarians.
Artichoke hearts are one of my favorite foods on earth. Whenever I see fresh artichokes on sale at the grocery store, I buy several, then look for ways to use artichoke hearts in every dish I can think of.
What I usually do is take the artichokes home, remove the hearts, braise them, then save them and use them in dishes over the next day or two. I usually make a simple dish (like this one) when I’m actually braising the hearts, then use the rest in a more complicated dish the next day.
Here’s the simple dish, fried rice with artichoke hearts and garlic.
Next week, I’ll show you the somewhat more complicated dish, which is my favorite dish I’ve eaten in the last six months.
What You Need
Making enough fried rice with artichoke hearts and garlic for my whole family cost about $5, given the sale price of the artichokes. The artichokes were definitely the most expensive part.
What you’ll need is about a cup of rice per adult (and half a cup per child), a few artichokes, three or four cloves of minced garlic, some olive oil, some additional vegetable oil (preferably peanut oil), a bit of lemon juice, and some salt and pepper. This will get you everything you need to make this meal, plus have some artichoke hearts left over.
The Night Before (or Early That Day)
This recipe roughly splits into two parts: braising the artichoke hearts and preparing the fried rice. The artichokes can be done a bit ahead of time, so we’ll discuss that first.
If you have whole artichokes, your first step will be to properly cut them up. This wonderful video shows how easy that process really is:
Don’t stress out too much over removing the “choke” – the fuzzy part in the middle of the artichoke. You want to remove it, but it’s not harmful if you don’t get every bit. It’s not poisonous or bad for you, it just isn’t that great to eat, like a pumpkin rind.
Before you get started cutting up your artichokes, get a bowl with about 1 cup of water in it and add half a cup of lemon juice to it. As you cut up the artichokes and remove the hearts, you’re going to want to get them in this lemon water as quickly as you can, because if you do not, the artichoke hearts will discolor and turn brown. That makes them look less appealing.
This is an artichoke heart that I’ve just finished cutting. In the minute it took me to get my camera, it had already discolored a bit.
What I usually do is I take a heart as depicted above, slice it into fourths, then slice each of those quarters into three or four slices. I then add those to the lemon water.
Once your artichoke hearts are ready, take two teaspoons of olive oil and put the oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Wait until the oil is shimmering, then add a minced garlic clove to the oil, then add the artichoke hearts.
Stir the oil, artichoke, and garlic around a bit, then let it cook over medium heat for about five minutes. Lower the heat down to medium-low, add the remaining lemon water, then cover the pot and let this all cook together for fifteen to twenty minutes – until the hearts are tender and have a lemon-garlic taste to them.
You’re done! Remove the artichoke hearts and store them in the refrigerator for later use.
Preparing the Meal
Cook your rice according to the directions – it’ll vary some based on the type of rice you’re using.
When the rice is finished, add two teaspoons of peanut oil (or other vegetable oil) to a pot over medium heat. Wait until the oil begins to shimmer, then add the rice. Stir regularly and cook for twelve minutes, adding the artichoke hearts for the last two minutes. You can also add additional garlic with the artichoke hearts.
That’s it – you’re done. Remove from the heat and serve (preferably with soy sauce)!
The base of this meal is fried rice. You can pretty much add anything to fried rice – chicken, shrimp, beef, water chestnuts, peppers, onions, whatever you like. Be sure to cook the meat thoroughly – don’t cook it in with the rice, although there’s nothing wrong with cooking the meat in a pot, then putting the rice in that same pot for the frying.
It’s simple, tasty, and pretty cheap. Those are all things I like in a meal.