August 27, 2013

Two Hungry [Artichoke] Hearts

We were watching Sandwich King the other day on Food Network, and Jeff was whipping up a grilled artichoke sandwich with a roasted garlic ricotta spread.  All of the components sounded great, so we took them, and morphed them into a delicious grilled salad.

Start by roasting your garlic.  It takes about at least 30 minutes for it to roast, so you'll want to start with this step so it can caramelize and soften while you prepare everything else.  I peeled away some of the outer layers of the garlic skin first.  Then, you'll want to slice off the top of the head so the cloves are exposed.  Drizzle olive oil over the top, and sprinkle on some salt and pepper.  Wrap up the garlic in foil and place it in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until it is fragrant and soft.

While the garlic is roasting, you can start preparing everything else.  We wanted to make the salad a little more hearty, and we had a couple chicken breasts on hand, so we simply seasoned with salt and pepper and a little oregano, and threw them on the grill.  The romaine heart was quartered, and a whole can of quartered artichoke hearts were drained.  The romaine, artichoke hearts, and a red bell pepper all received a liberal brushing of olive oil, and sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Then we threw them on the grill.  The romaine and artichokes only took about 5 minutes, while the pepper took about 10 minutes.  You want the pepper to get nice and charred so you can easily peel the skin off.

Once they've cooled down enough for you to handle, give your romaine a rough chop.  Peel the skin off your pepper, and slice it into thin strips.  Add this all to a bowl with your grilled artichokes.  For some freshness, we tossed in some mixed greens and thinly sliced red onion.  You can also toast up some pine nuts to top your salad, for some added crunch.  Now just plate your salads, and add the sliced chicken on top.  For dressing, we just drizzled some balsamic vinegar over the top.

Now, don't think I forgot about our roasted garlic.  When it's soft, and sweet smelling, pull it out of the oven, and squeeze out your cloves.  They should be a golden brown, and nice and soft.  Using the side of your knife, you should be able to smoosh the garlic into a paste.  You can add a little salt to add some coarseness and help  assist you in making the paste.  Then just add your garlic to a bowl with ricotta, parmesan, and lemon zest.
Mix it all together so it's well mixed, and you're ready to spread it on some crostini, topped with fresh basil.  The velvety ricotta with the sweet roasted garlic was the perfect compliment to our grilled salad.

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