Turning a fail into a fabulous dinner

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Roasted Artichoke Provencal is a savory dish on a Mediterranean diet. —Connie Berry

As usual, I spent last weekend Googling diets. This time, though, I was looking specifically for foods that reduce inflammation. Seems the underlying problem for all kinds of ailments from diabetes to heart disease to depression to arthritis is inflammation. Usually when I start Googling diets, I end up with recipes for tofu surprise with turmeric, or some other not-great-sounding dish. This time I was really happy with the choices the Internet gave me for anti-inflammatory foods: tomatoes, olive oil, leafy green veggies like spinach and kale, nuts like almonds and walnuts, fatty fish like salmon and tuna, fresh fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and cherries.

The Harvard Medical School site said that if you want to follow a diet low in inflammatory foods, go with the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils. That’s all I needed to know to continue my Google search.

I came up with some interesting recipes, and most of them contain ingredients that I love: artichoke hearts, tomatoes, olives, and garlic. What could possibly go wrong?

My first choice was Roasted Artichokes Provençal, especially since it included a whole lot of the foods I like. I ran into trouble pretty quickly, though, because I couldn’t for the life of me find frozen artichoke hearts anyplace on this Island. So, I had to substitute artichokes canned in water. I also didn’t have an orange in the fridge, so I used lemon peel rather than orange peel. They both contain the word “peel,” I thought. By the time everything finished roasting — it took longer than the recipe said it would — I was still left with soggy artichokes.

I’m a trooper, though, so I spooned it onto a colorful dish and topped it with a drizzle of olive oil and torn basil leaves. It sure was pretty. But it was soggy.

Now let me tell you how I made this into a winner.

I saved the leftovers from my soggy supper, about a cup and a half of the Roasted Artichoke Provençal, and did a redo with a few additions for the next night’s dinner.

This time I cooked the leftovers on top of the stove in a frying pan on medium heat, and I added more olives, a few more capers, and about a half-cup of julienne-sliced sundried tomatoes in oil. I let that all get nice and hot and a little brown, and added more oil when needed. While the veggies were warming up, I cooked up some gluten-free penne pasta. It all came together nicely. I drained the pasta and mixed it with my leftover concoction, and then I added a good handful of grated Parmesan cheese. Now this dish was exactly what I wanted. It probably wasn’t quite as good for me, but it was delicious. Everybody wanted seconds, including me.

I’d recommend you try this recipe exactly how it’s written, using the ingredients listed. If yours comes out soggy like mine did, don’t despair, but instead use it as a base for another dish like I did above. It’s fun to experiment in the kitchen, and sometimes you end up with a winner.

Roasted Artichoke Provençal

1 lb. frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
2 Tbsp. pitted kalamata olives
1 Tbsp. capers
2 strips orange zest
2 Roma tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. dry white wine
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup torn fresh basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 425°. Toss the artichoke hearts, olives, capers, orange zest, tomatoes, and garlic with the wine, olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring once or twice, until the tomatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
Transfer to a platter, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with more salt, and top with the basil.