Try this deep-fried dish on the day devoted to the flower itself, National Artichoke Hearts Day.
Time flies and once again, like a crazy green foodie Christmas, National Artichoke Hearts Day is upon us once more. That's right; March 16 is National Artichoke Hearts Day, and celebrating its green goodness couldn't come on a better day, seeing as how it comes before the most popular green celebration of the year -- St. Patrick's Day. And what better way to do some celebrating than by having a feast?
Artichokes have been around for quite some time and are considered one of the world's oldest foods, according to Punchbowl.com. Historians believe it was first cultivated in the Mediterranean region and the Greek's thought highly enough of it to place it in their mythology, Zeus having made his mistress, Cynara, into an artichoke after he caught her attempting to sneak away from Mt. Olympus.
But contrary to popular opinion, the artichoke that is eaten isn't the plant or vegetable itself. It is actually a flower of the artichoke plant.
Here's a bit of trivia: The town of Castroville, California (the state where most artichokes eaten in the US come from) holds an annual Artichoke Queen pageant. They've been doing it since 1947, when they crowned aspiring actress Norma Jean Mortenson. She later became famous as the fabulous Marilyn Monroe.
But back to the feast. There's nothing better to kick off a feast than appetizers. Artichokes and artichoke hearts are popular ingredients in various dips and small dishes designed to tide you over until the main course arrives. So this time around, we're going to fry them.
Fried Artichoke Hearts
1/2 cup Milk
1 (15 ounce) can Artichoke Hearts (drained and quartered)
1 1/2 cups Seasoned Dry bread Crumbs
2 cups Oil (for frying)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated, for topping)
Pour oil in deep-fryer or deep skillet and heat to 350 degrees F.
Place seasoned bread crumbs in a separate bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Dip prepared artichoke hearts in the egg mixture, then roll in bread crumbs until covered.
Deep-fry hearts for 2 to 3 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Remove and place on paper towels to drain excess oil.
Sprinkle finished hearts with Parmesan cheese.
Note: This simple recipe can be enhanced by adding several spices to taste. Cracked peppercorns add a little bite, as does any type of powdered pepper (but real fire comes from cayenne and crushed red peppers. Simple add your preferred spices (to taste) to the egg mixture.
Artichoke hearts are naturally healthy, contain no fat or cholesterol, according to LiveStrong.com. It is also low in calories while at the same time being high in fiber, calcium and protein.
However, it should be noted that adding extra ingredients and cooking in oil adds various caloric and other nutritional values to your dish, so take heed if you're a counter.
So cook yourself up a batch of Fried Artichoke Hearts, rent "Blondes Have More Fun" or "Some Like It Hot," and have a great National Artichoke Hearts Day.
(photo credit: CalBear22, Wikimedia Commons)