I hate waste.
We often talk about nose-to-tail cooking meat, but as an ex-vegetarian, often what we clean away from a vegetable is wasted.
Last spring, while cleaning fava beans, the bag of the pods was much larger than the bowl I had of the tiny fava beans.
I began to do research. In one of my old Italian cookbooks, I found a recipe for using the pea pods and boiling them, then removing the “meat” with a spoon from the pod to create a flan.
That got me thinking about the fava bean pods. Now we have Google and I found many recipes in Greece which actually used the whole fava bean with the pod in recipes.
Often people keep vegetable shavings for flavoring stocks.
But one of the huge wastes to me was always with the artichoke.
In America, we boil the whole huge choke and then just scrape of the edible part of the leaf with our teeth. It always just seemed like a reason to eat mayonaise to me.
Upon moving to Italy, I saw the artichokes sold with their stems on and was totally confused. More to throw away?
NO! more to eat. I learned how to clean and cook the Italian way. The stem of the artichoke is simple more of the heart, the BEST part!
At the local markets near me huge piles of artichokes are sold with their stems. In Rome, they trim the leaves for you, still with the stems, to stew whole, stuffed with mint and garlic. Normally we pull off the tough outer leaves and then cut off the top.
Here is how a Tuscan cuts the artichoke to cook.Remove the tough outside leaves, you will hear when you reach the tender inner leaves, they start to squeek.
Then cut off the top of the leaf, leaving what would be the artichoke “heart”
Then “peel” the stalk part, leaving only the tender heart.
Put the trimmed artichokes in water with lemon juice, so they don’t turn brown. Then get to work on the stalks.
For the stalks, simply peel off the tougher outer part. the rest is all yummy heart.
We can simply stew in garlic and olive oil, but I remembered a recipe we made when I worked at the Stanford Court Hotel in San Francisco. Cream of Artichoke Soup, with hazelnuts.
I like to make recipes with vegetables vegetarian so never add chicken stock and not sure how many people keep rice flour, so use a technique I picked up here in Florence from Fabio Picchi. I add potatoes to the soup and then puree.
From a recent trip to Sicily I have ground pistacchios in the house so substituted those for the hazelnuts and it was a huge success.
So this is how new recipes are created, cleaning out the pantry.
Cream of Artichoke Soup with Pistacchio
Artichoke stalks or hearts( I think you can get bags of frozen hearts)
Potatoes, peeled and cubed
Chopped pistacchios for garnish
Chop the artichokes and potatoes into small pieces.
Saute in extra virgin olive oil.
Cover with several cups of water.
Cook until the potatoes are tender, the artichokes cook faster.
I like to use a immersion blender and puree directly in the pot I cooked the soup in.
Add a few tablespoons of ground pistacchio to thicken and flavor the soup.
Serve garnished with ground pistacchios and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Top with some grated parmesan cheese if you like.
If you don’t have an immersion blender, I actually used my food mill as my blender was at the school.