Dana Slatkin

Chokes ‘N Cheese (Artichoke Gratin)

Artichoke GratinNow that school’s out, it’s fine time for some juicy summer reading. While the kids work their way down their assigned lists, I’m looking forward to delving into that teetering stack of books on my nightstand. And though I cop to missing the e-book boat, I’m in no rush to let go of my beloved hardcovers.

Top on my list is Angella Nazarian’s Pioneers of the Possible: Celebrating Visionary Women of the World (Assouline, 2012). These deftly-written profiles of visionary women are crammed with mesmerizing stories and wisdom, perfect for a spontaneous read on a hammock over a warm afternoon.

Inspired by this fearless tribe of women, I plan to say “yes” more often this summer…“yes” to that sunrise hike, “yes” to river rafting with the kids, “yes” to foraging in the forest for something strange and unknown.

That’s how my family’s favorite Mac ‘n Cheese recipe turned into the dish here. With no macaroni in the house, I decided to wing it with artichokes instead (I use frozen hearts unapologetically because of the precious time they save). A classic gratin taken from the pages of kid cuisine, it roused a unanimous “yes” from my crowd.

If you are feeling particularly bold, toss in fresh chopped mint or basil, sautéed leeks, or perhaps a pinch of saffron. You could also add some Kalamata olives, tomatoes, diced prosciutto or crisped bacon (veggie ham for me, please). Any which way, it’s a fiercely flavorful one-dish meal for a balmy evening.

So in case you’re wondering whether I’ll be spending lots of my summer in the kitchen, the answer is “yes.” To quote Ella Fitzgerald from Angella’s book (with some artistic license from the Farmgirl): “The only thing better than cooking is more cooking.”

You might also like these other delicious artichoke dishes:

Happy Summer 2012!

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