Spring has sprung (at least here it has) and there are beautiful buds and flowers popping up everywhere. The spring buds reminded me of this dish that I like to make to “decorate” a plate. It is one of my go-to edible plate decorations I like to use for the Spring. For some reason it reminds me of a budding tulip-(use your imagination), but all my hubby thinks of is a small cauliflower…which is still Spring!!
Spinach and Artichoke Buds: To begin, drain 1 can of artichoke hearts. I like to use medium (6-8ct) but small (8-10ct) works, too. Cut a little off the bottom of each artichoke so they will sit upright. Chop the bottom pieces and any loose leaves and set aside. Use your thumb and press an indention into the center of each artichoke heart. (QUICK TIP: Use artichoke hearts like this instead of artichoke bottoms in some recipes-much cheaper!)
In a small bowl, add the chopped artichoke and 2 TBSP cream cheese, 1 TBSP Parmesan cheese, 1garlic clove, minced, dash of Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper. Mix well. Stuff the mixture into the artichoke heats. (I use the handle end of a teaspoon to fill the artichoke hearts.)
Sit the filled artichokes upside down an a work area covered with saran wrap. Grab some salad ready spinach leaves. Place a spinach leaf across the bottom of the artichoke. Layer spinach leaves, alternating positions, as you cover the bottom. The spinach will wilt in the oven, so be generous! Secure in place with a toothpick, pushed up through the spinach leaves. Sit in a non-stick mini muffin tin..Bake in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes-8 minutes (depending on size of artichokes). Gently remove toothpicks. Give the “buds” a quick sprinkle of paprika and shredded Parmesan cheese. That’s it! A little taste of spinach and artichoke dip in one decorative bite. Serve as an appetizer or use to help decorate the table or plates-edible decorations. (Great served alongside ham!) They can be served hot or cold.
Put your TO COOK IS TO CREATE thinking cap on: What else could you add to the filling? Cooked crumbled bacon? Chopped ham? Chopped cooked shrimp is one I add if serving as an appetizer. What other filling could you use? Pimento cheese is a pretty and tasty one? Get a double delicious bite and add crumbled bacon on top after baking! How about lettuce leaves instead of spinach and serve cold like a salad?
FOOD FUN: Once the bottoms of the artichoke hearts are trimmed and chopped, this is a fun recipe to get the kids involved. Let them fill them and stack and layer the spinach leaves before baking. Sometimes if kids help out in the cooking process, they are more likely to try a new food. It’s worth a try! Don’t guess promising them they will grow up to be like Popeye works anymore?!