The hearts from 5 large artichokes
5 Tbsp butter, divided
1 medium size leek, white-and-light green parts only, sliced and rinsed
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup chopped shallots (or yellow onion)
8 oz of Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
12 cups of chicken stock (if cooking gluten-free, use gluten-free stock) or vegetable stock (for vegetarian option)
1/2 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs of parsley
1/4 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
1/4 cup of cream
Salt to taste
Prepare the artichoke hearts. Peel off the leaves from around the artichokes until you get to the thistly choke in the center.
With a small knife, remove the thistle choke part and discard. Cut or peel away the tough outside skin of the stems and discard. You can keep one to two inches of the stem on the artichoke heart. Longer stems you can discard. Slice the hearts or chop to a quarter inch thickness.
Melt the butter in a large, thick-bottomed pot on medium heat. Add the artichoke hears, leek, garlic, and shallots. Cook until tender, but not brown. Add the peeled diced potatoes and the stock. Wrap the herbs (bay leaf, thyme, parsley) and peppercorns in cheesecloth and place in the pot. Increase the heat to bring the soup to a simmer, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook uncovered, for 1 hour.
After an hour, remove and discard the herbs. Purée the soup and use a rubber spatula to push it through a fine mesh sieve. At this point you can make ahead and refrigerate until ready to serve. When you are ready to serve, heat the soup and stir in the remaining butter and the cream. Season with salt to taste and serve.
Yield: Serves 8.
2 (10-ounce) boxes frozen spinach
1 pound whole wheat or whole grain penne pasta or macaroni (any short cut pasta)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 (10-ounce) box frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted, halved, pat dry
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons butter
3 slightly rounded tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
5 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Position the oven rack in center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Defrost the spinach in the microwave. Drain, then dry the spinach out as much as possible by wringing it out in a clean kitchen towel.
Bring a saucepot of water to a boil. Add salt. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a small skillet over medium to medium-high heat and add the shallots and garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add the artichokes and cook until they are lightly brown. Add the wine to deglaze the pan.
While the artichokes and pasta cook, in a saucepot over medium to medium-high heat, add the butter. When melted, whisk in the flour for 1 minute or so, then whisk in the milk and season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, adjust the seasonings and stir in the Gruyere cheese. Combine the sauce with the spinach, pasta, and artichoke and stir until just combined. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and cover with the remaining cheese. Cool and store for a make-ahead meal.
Bake on a baking sheet 45 minutes or until brown and bubbly on top.