This dish (concocted at the spur of the moment) reminded me of a conversation I had with a foodie friend in Beirut; we were discussing artichokes and that exquisite Lebanese dish of stuffed artichoke bottoms with minced lamb and yogurt; I mentioned I used frozen bottoms imported from Egypt. His reaction was: “What? You are supposed to get fresh artichokes and (slave over) peel them and clean them up and then get their bottoms” is what he said.
Yeah, right! I will do that when I have a kitchen helper 24/7. (Kitchen help is widely available in Lebanon)
You can save yourselves a lot of time and grief and buy them frozen at the Middle-Eastern store; they are produced in Egypt and are just fine!
- 1 bag of artichoke bottoms (about 10 bottoms)
- 2 cups of low-fat yogurt
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- A handful of fresh or frozen fava beans (optional)
- 1/4 pound of large shrimps
- Olive oil, as needed
- 4 ounces of cappellini pasta (or angel hair)
- Spices: Salt, to taste, sumac (1 teaspoon), paprika (1 teaspoon), coriander (1/2 teaspoon)
- Prep the shrimps (peeling and deveining) and sprinkle with the spices; add a little olive oil and let the shrimp marinate, covered, in the fridge.
- Boil 8 cups of water in a pot and drop the fava beans (either shelled or in their husks) and boil for 5 minutes until soft. Drain and shell them, removing the outer skin which is thick and hard to digest (for a lot of people). Set aside.
- Mash the garlic with a dash of salt, chop the cilantro; heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a small skillet and add the garlic and cilantro, stirring constantly, for no more than five seconds. Set aside.
- Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the artichoke bottoms for 7 minutes or so; drain and set aside. Heat a skillet and fry the shrimps on both sides for 3 minutes or until they turn bright pink. Set aside.
- Prepare the yogurt sauce: Place the yogurt in a bowl, add the cilantro and garlic pesto, the fava beans and combine well. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the cappellini 2 minutes. Drain and place in the bowl over the yogurt; combine pasta and yogurt sauce.
- To assemble: Place the artichoke bottoms on a platter; add a few strands of pasta on each bottom and a couple of shrimps. Place the leftover pasta in the middle, garnish with a few cilantro leaves and serve.