A toast to artichokes
Artichoke toast and mini toast
- 2 cups cooked artichoke hearts, quartered or 1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, quartered
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese — divided into two ½ cups
- Fresh basil (optional)
- Sliced bread — any type, depending of preference.
- (For mini toast, use sliced baguette)
- Pre-heat oven to broil.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine artichokes, garlic, Greek yogurt, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese and half of the Parmesan cheese. Mix until mostly smooth, allowing for some lumps of artichoke.
- Arrange sliced bread on baking sheet. Spoon artichoke mixture onto bread. Be sure to completely cover the edges of the bread to prevent burning. Top with remaining Parmesan cheese and basil, if desired.
- Bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Allow to cool and enjoy.
You’ve heard of avocado toast, but what about artichoke toast? This may be your new guilty pleasure — regardless of whether or not you fall in a certain millennial age bracket.
With the persistent chill of winter still lingering in the air, a warm slice of toasted bread covered with a savory, melted cheese and artichoke topping makes the dreary clouds of March seem to drift away.
When I was gathering ingredients for this recipe, I imagined using a sourdough loaf for the bread. But as I was driving to a grocery store, I took a different route and happened upon a delightfully picturesque corner bakery with a neon sign that read “New Roma Bakery.” The bakery is on the corner of E and 18 St. in Sacramento and I highly recommend it. At first I kept driving, but then suddenly made the decision to turn the car around and go inside. I’m glad I did. Once inside, I was greeted with the smell of freshly baked bread and sweet pastries through a haze of flour. As with most bakeries, there were so many options and it took me a good 10 minutes to finally settle on a small French loaf for the base of my artichoke toast. For the mini toasts, I selected a baguette dusted in flour.
Artichokes are one of those less-popular and a bit esoteric vegetables that are not commonly found on restaurant menus. But now artichoke hearts are beginning to show up more as toppings on pizza or for dips. Growing up, my mom would steam whole artichokes, and then our family would eat them by tearing off the leaves and dipping them in mayonnaise. When I think about that now, it’s not such a pleasant memory. I think that is the reason why for many years, I thought I didn’t like the taste of artichokes with their spiky leaves and soggy centers. And if you’re thinking you don’t like artichokes, either, because of how you were forced to eat them as a child, I would recommend giving them another try.
Artichoke toast or mini toast is a delicious way to ease into eating your veggies — smothered in cheese usually is the best way to eat anything, right? And because of the cheese and Greek yogurt, this is a protein-packed snack, too. Artichoke toast can be served as an appetizer — especially the mini toast — or as a full meal when paired with a tomato or vegetable soup. It could also easily be made into grilled cheese by adding another slice of bread on top and grilling or baking it for about 10-15 minutes, on medium heat.
I decided to turn the toast into mini toast when I was trying to decide on an unusual appetizer for a dinner party that I was hosting with an “Italian diner” theme. Originally, I had planned on making bruschetta, but I wanted to try something different and thus the mini toasts were born. I had been calling them artichoke bruschetta, but a baker friend of mine graciously informed me that the word bruschetta actually refers to a particular kind of “mini toast.” It is a starter dish from Italy that is traditionally made with grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with tomatoes, olive oil and basil. After learning this, I began to call my creation mini toasts instead, which I thought sounded cuter anyway.
The combination of flavors in this toasty recipe is enhanced with a hint of garlic and fresh basil leaves as a garnish. I rarely make the same recipe twice; there are too many variations that I am curious to try. Create your own artichoke toast or mini toast by experimenting with different breads, cheeses and methods of baking. Although the artichoke and cheese mixture does not need to be baked to be eaten, I think you’ll find it is tastier warm and melty.