Artichoke bottoms are perfect little vessels to hold countless fillings.
One of my favorite culinary gifts from my late Mother-in-Law Pat, was the discovery of canned artichoke bottoms. Pat was not just a great cook, but a chef in her two high-end restaurants in the Manchester and Londonderry Vermont area, the heart of ski country. She always used the best of ingredients, but didn’t shy away from a short-cut here and there. She did not like prepping fresh artichokes, and since they are in season here for what amounts to a couple of weeks, she found ways to incorporate these luscious vegetables into her menu all year.
A quick and delicious dish
For special parties, she made little appetizers from artichoke bottoms stuffed with ham, finely minced shallots, and a nutty Swiss cheese on top, popped under the broiler until bubbly. That’s it, simple, always popular, and she made them using canned artichoke bottoms, served up with flair and no apology.
You will generally get between seven and eight bottoms to a can, and they can be stuffed or filled with just about anything your imagination can conjure.
How about this?
I had some beautiful Gulf of Maine sea scallops from our local market, and used some in omelets for Sunday brunch. The rest I planned to sear and serve on a simple salad for dinner, but the can of artichoke bottoms in my pantry caught my eye. Wouldn’t they be cute presented with a scallop?
Mushrooms from the fridge, a shallot from the pantry, thyme from the garden, coconut milk, and a lonely little tomato finished out the dish. It was quick and delicious, perfect for Sunday supper. The artichokes tasted lemony, quite unexpected, and married beautifully with the scallops. Husband heartily approved, so I’ll be making this one again.
You can use any mushroom you like here, or substitute light cream for the coconut milk. I wanted to avoid the dairy, and the coconut milk added a lovely little background flavor to the dish along with a hearty feel.
Dry sea scallops only please
Note: Purchase only “dry” sea scallops, and always ask. Grocery store scallops are often packed in water with a preservative which does not do the scallops any favors. First of all, all the flavor from the scallops end up in the solution so they will taste bland. Additionally, the scallops will be waterlogged and will never sear!
Serve these with jasmine rice to sop up the lovely sauce.
Artichoke Bottoms Stuffed with Sea Scallops
- 1 can artichoke bottoms
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 7 or 8 large sea scallops
- 1 large shallot, small dice
- 8 ounces white mushrooms, chopped
- ½ cup dry white wine or stock
- ½ can full-fat coconut milk
- 3 sprigs of thyme leaves
- 1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
Rinse the artichoke bottoms and place on a towel to drain and pat dry. If need be, trim the bottom slightly so they will sit without wobbling.
Prep the scallops: remove the tiny muscle on the side of each, and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
Heat a cast-iron frying pan over medium high heat. Spray or brush the artichokes lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place top sided down in the pan and sear until colored on the edges, turn and sear the second side. Set aside and tent with foil or cover.
Add a little olive oil to the pan and sear the scallops, about a minute and a half per side, or until a nice crust forms. Set aside and tent as well.
To the pan, add the shallot and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook until everything is softened and just starting to brown. Deglaze the pan with the wine, and let this simmer until the wine has almost evaporated, then add the coconut milk and leaves from the thyme. Let this simmer for just a couple of minutes. If you like, you can add a tablespoon of unsalted butter to the sauce off the heat. I did not, wanting to keep it a bit light.
To assemble, pour the mushroom sauce on a platter and add the artichoke bottoms. Place a scallop in each, then sprinkle with the chopped tomato.
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