Artichoke rice

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When you’re a creative, you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach to do. You have to drop what you’re already doing and put that pen to paper or that brush to canvas or that pick to strings - for me, it’s jotting down ingredients, running to the grocery store, and cooking until I can’t stand anymore. (Or until - begrudgingly - I admit I need to do dishes in order to continue.) I had one of those days today. They can come often sometimes, like I’m the future cook I’m supposed to be, and there can be dry spells of creativity too, which have downsides and moods that other creative souls might be able to commiserate with.

The point in all of this is that I am thrilled about some items I’m working on for Fall - to the extent that I’m uprooting a solid month of best-laid-plans in order to get these fresh takes to you faster. 

My older sister proclaimed the following artichoke rice - a few hours ago -  one of her favorite recipes I’ve ever developed. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t psyched about it too. 

It’s actually what was once a classic ladies’ luncheon salad - folks used to use mayo or cream cheese to adhere it together - but here I've cut out the shrapnel and give it to you in a minimalist form. No, you won’t be able to pick it up with an ice cream scoop and serve it over a passé piece of butter lettuce. It’s a versatile main or side dish that you can eat warm or cold, and that will last for up to 5 days in your refrigerator.  

This marinated artichoke and rice salad is infused with shallots and garlic as well. The recipe all started with the fact that Trader Joe’s started selling grilled marinated artichoke halves, and that char makes a huge difference. You can absolutely use plain marinated artichokes, but, if you’re near a TJ’s, their variety takes the recipe to a higher plain. Clean and light, you can serve this side along fish or chicken, or topped with either. It’ll make a great desk lunch too.

If you want it to be a little heartier, swap out the rice for orzo pasta or fusilli – you’ll just want to cook it according to the noodles’ instructions and ignore the chicken stock below to. 

This recipe serves 6 as a side dish and 4 as a main course. 

What you need

  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  •  1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup marinated artichoke halves (about 4 halves), preferably Trader Joe’s Grilled Marinated Artichoke Halves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp toasted pine nuts (coincidentally the cheapest spot for pine nuts is Trader Joe’s) 
  • Zest from 1/2 lemon (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6-8 cracks of freshly cracked black pepper (about 1/4 tsp) 

How to do it

Starting with the rice, finely chop the shallot and mince the garlic and place into a medium sauce pan. Add the rice, olive oil and chicken stock to the sauce pan. Use a rubber spatula to stir once or twice so that the rice doesn’t cook to the bottom, and then turn the pot over high heat. Once the rice reaches a boil, lower to simmer and cover with a lid. Allow the rice to cook for about 15 minutes, or the time allotted according to your rice packaging.  Once the rice has been fully cooked, remove from the heat and allow to steam for at least 10 minutes with the lid on. Finally, remove the lid and use a fork to fluff the rice carefully.

While the rice simmers and steams, roughly chop the artichoke halves into bite-size pieces with a chef’s knife on a cutting board. There will be excess olive oil on the artichokes and on the cutting board - that’s okay; use the edge of your knife to scoot the artichoke pieces and olive oil into a large serving bowl. 

Next, finely chop parsley on the same cutting board, and then, also using the edge of your knife, transfer the parsley into the bowl with the artichokes. If using lemon zest, add zest to the serving bowl as well.

To complete, add rice to the serving bowl, and, stirring from the bottom of the bowl, use a rubber spatula to combine. Add salt and pepper, and stir again until incorporated. See note on what to do with the pine nuts below.

Note on the pine nuts: If serving immediately, top the artichoke rice with pine nuts. If you’re serving the rice later in the week, I recommend reserving the pine nuts and adding as close to mealtime as possible because they can get a little soggy and chewy - which defeats the purpose of adding a crunch.

The artichoke rice can be stored in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.