Mediterranean Stuffed Artichokes

In this side dish, brown rice gets help from a supporting cast of crunchy pine nuts, high fibre apricots and savoury feta. This accompaniment also scores major points for presentation with the rice served from the heart of an artichoke.

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Ingredients
  • 4 to 6artichokes
  • 2 tsp (10 mL)olive oil
  • 1 cup (250 mL)minced onion
  • 2cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL)each: salt, pepper, ground cumin and oregano
  • 1-1/2 cups (375 mL)U.S. long grain brown rice
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL)wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL)white wine
  • 2-1/2 cups (625 mL)low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1each cinnamon stick and bay leaf
  • 1 cup (250 mL)toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL)chopped, dried apricots
  • 2 tsp (10 mL)lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL)fresh minced parsley
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL)crumbled feta
Directions
  1. Trim artichoke, arrange each in a large saucepan and cover with salted water. Bring to boil, cover and simmer until artichokes are tender when stem end is pierced with the tip of a knife, about 30 to 45 minutes (depending on size). Place in colander stem end up and let cool enough to handle. Pull off centremost leaf cluster. Use a spoon to scoop out the fibrous choke, being cautious not to scoop out the tender heart underneath. Let rest stem side up until ready to stuff.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion; cook until translucent and tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, salt, pepper, cumin and oregano. Cook one minute. Add rice and wheat germ, stirring until completely coated with oil and begins to toast, about one minute.
  3. Stir in wine, broth, cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Increase heat and bring mixture to a boil; cover and reduce heat to medium low just to simmer. Cook, without stirring, until rice is tender and all liquid has been absorbed, about 45 minutes. Stir in pine nuts, apricots, lemon zest and parsley.
  4. Arrange artichokes, stem side down, in a single layer on a baking dish. Spoon rice mixture into artichokes and sprinkle with feta. Bake in a 350 F (180 C) oven until heated through and cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.

Use the rice mixture on its own or as a stuffing for zucchini, bell peppers or portabello mushrooms.