Artichoke Pesto Sandwich

artichooke pesto sammy

Watch me make this on my YouTube channel!

Yield: 4 servings

1 (14-ounce) can or jar artichoke hearts, packed in water, drained and squeezed of excess water

1 packed cup fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup whole milk ricotta, drained

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 slices whole wheat bread, toasted

1 (12-ounce jar) roasted red bell peppers, drained

2 cups spinach

2 medium tomatoes, sliced thinly

4-ounces whole milk mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

 

Place artichoke hearts, basil, ricotta, pine nuts, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper in a food processor. Process until smooth, approximately 1 minute, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed.

Place an oven rack on the top rack and line 2 sheet trays with aluminum foil. Turn your oven to broil.

Assemble 4 sandwiches by spreading 2½ tablespoons of the pesto on each piece of toast. Layer spinach, red bell pepper and tomato on one side of the sandwich (atop the pesto). Add mozzarella on the other side of the sandwich. Place sandwiches, open-faced, on the foil-lined sheet trays (2 sandwiches per sheet tray).

Place 1 sheet tray under the broiler until the cheese is nice and melty. (This may happen quite quickly depending on your oven!) Remove from the oven and repeat with the remaining sheet tray.

Spring is in the Air

Flowers are blooming, peaches will soon be here, herbs are growing like weeds, farmers markets are overflowing with fresh produce and all around town the smell of roses, honeysuckle, and jasmine fills the air. Not to mention the thought of grilling and barbecuing is on everyone’s minds. In fact, Super-sous and I went to a barbecue get-together last night at a friend’s house and will be grilling again tonight as well.

Being on the road for that past 3 weeks,  the thing that we have missed the most, undoubtedly, is the Hollywood Farmers Market, which takes place every Sunday from 8am to 1pm. Ever since we got back to L.A. last week we have been dreaming of, talking about and planning our Sunday at the market. Juicy strawberries, bunches of fresh kale, farm fresh eggs, pounds of sweet oranges, crisp asparagus… so much to enjoy in the few days before we take off again (for another 3 weeks of filming for my new show).

Last night, at our friend’s barbecue get-together and over a delicious raw kale salad (with delicious crisp apples and shaved almonds) that the hostess Julie made, we all got into a discussion about organic versus non-organic foods, local versus imported foods and the importance of asking questions to your local farmers when shopping at the farmers market. There are such markets in L.A. called uncertified farmers markets where (amongst local farmers) there are vendors selling produce from other countries (e.g. mangoes from Mexico). Also, not every farmers market sells organic produce. It is usually a mix. Another thing to add to the mix: many farmers follow organic farming practices, however cannot afford the certification process to be labelled organic. So, again, ask your local farmer questions about the produce they are selling, where they farm, etc. If you don’t get a clear answer, move on!

Today, Super-sous and I went to a small farmers market to get our fix with a few fruits and vegetables before our outing to the Hollywood market on Sunday. She wanted to buy organic strawberries, so I asked a farmer selling $5 baskets if their product was organic or not. Their response was, “no pesticides.” Super-sous and I looked at each other curiously. No pesticides? Well, organic or not, pesticides must be used for farming if you want to yield any produce (and therefore make a profit). Next question, “what exactly do you spray with?” His response, “we don’t spray with anything.” No spraying? No pesticides? It just didn’t make sense. Needless to say, we did not buy the strawberries. We would rather wait it out, knowing that non-organic strawberries take on some serious chemicals to be able to make it to the consumer. (Hence the reason it is at the top of Sunday’s list.)

Spring is in the air. The weekend is well underway and farmers markets around the country are popping up, opening for the season, and growing exponentially. So, my Latte loving friends, grab your shopping bags – I think I see an artichoke and some lemons with your name on it. Because when is the last time you had grilled artichokes brushed with extra-virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice squeezed on top? Might I say, if you don’t have one in your hand right now, it’s probably been too long.

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