Artichokes are beautiful vegetables that should be eaten whenever possible. They are rich and flavorful in the springtime and will turn any meal into a special occasion. So why not marry them to the coveted brunch menu and place them atop the much revered Benedict?Behold the Veggie Eggs Benedict. While not entirely vegan (due to the protein rich egg), this towering pile of exquisite vegetables is topped with a cashew cream and roasted garlic hollandaise sauce, 100% butter (and guilt) free. With such delicious and indulgent flavors this recipe begs the question: Why not have artichokes for breakfast everyday?
While this recipe has a seemingly long list of instructions, most are simply a detailed expression of basic cooking skills. Once you have mastered the art of the poached egg and have learned to clean an artichoke properly, you will be able to add this exceptional recipe to your cooking tool repertoire and easily impress the breakfast crowd at any given moment.
2 artichokes, outer leaves removed
1 medium sweet potato, scrubbed
1 sweet yellow onion, chopped into rings
**Cashew Cream Hollandaise**
½ cup raw cashews, soaked overnight (or a minimum of 2 hours)
1 clove garlic, roasted
4 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. nutritional yeast
½ tsp. finely ground sea salt
⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
⅛ tsp. turmeric powder
1/8 tsp of smoked paprika
1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar (plus more for poaching)
1 Tbs. water
5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for cooking)
Begin by soaking your cashews. Cover in water and set in the refrigerator for at least two hours. The longer you soak, the creamier your sauce will be. Overnight is ideal.
Cook and clean your artichokes
In a stock pot filled ¼ with water, steam the artichoke for 50 mins or until you can easily pull the leaves from the stalk.
To clean your artichokes, you will first need to fill a large bowl with ice, water and 1 lemon cut in half, squeezed and added to the water with peel on. This will be your artichoke bath and will help keep their color.
First peel the outer layer of the stalk with a vegetable peeler (many people waste this delicious part of the artichoke, but it tastes as good as the heart).
Next, start pulling away the tough outer leaves working, around the artichoke, until you reach the tender inner leaves. Exactly how many leaves you remove is something learned with experience, but don't be surprised if you pull 1/3 of the leaves off. (Put these leaves aside as they can be steamed along with the heart or used later to make an artichoke stock.)
Trim the tip of the artichokes, cutting about 1” of the tip off the remaining leaves, and then slice the artichoke in half, lengthwise. Place the first half into the ice bath, then, using a knife, cut out the inner fuzz of the other half, ensuring that all of the fuzz has been removed. Do the same with the second half. Slice the cleaned heart into 6” lengthwise pieces and keep warm in the steamer until you are ready to plate the benedict.
Cook your veggies
Preheat the oven to 350.
Slice your yellow onion into rings and cook it in a big pan with 1 Tbs. olive oil. Cook on low for 30 mins, stirring frequently, or until the onions start to caramelize and turn soft and sweet.
Slice your sweet potatoes into small disks and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, fresh pepper and 1 Tsp. of smoked paprika. Cook for 20-30 minutes, removing once potatoes are soft.
Add a garlic head to the oven for roasting. Slice the top off the entire head, exposing the tops of each garlic clove. In a piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap the garlic in, set in in the center and drizzle with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bring the foil up around the sides and close at the top. Place that in the over with the potatoes and roast for 30 minutes.
Make your secret sauce
Once your cashews have been soaked, you can make your hollandaise. Add 1/2 cup soaked cashews, 4 cloves of roasted garlic, 4 Tbs. of lemon (or to taste), 1 Tbs. nutritional yeast, ½ tsp. sea salt, ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper, ⅛ tsp. turmeric powder, 1/8 tsp. of smoked paprika, and 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar (also to taste.) Blend on high for one minute, then check the consistency. If you find it needs to be thinned out you can add water 1 tsp. at a time until it is to your preferred consistency. Taste and adjust sweet/tartness with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
Once everything is prepped you are ready to poach your eggs. Simmer them in a shallow pan with a tablespoon of vinegar to hold them together. For a more in-depth look at poaching the perfect egg check out my tutorial.
While your eggs are poaching, assemble your vegetable tower. Timing is key to eggs benedict, so you make sure you are prepped and ready to plate with the vegetable base built and sauce in hand.
On a plate create a small stack of sweet potatoes in the center and surround it with sliced artichoke hearts. Place your poached egg in the center and drizzle hollandaise on top. Add a pinch of caramelized onions and a dash of smoked paprika and serve immediately.
The humble artichoke offers a bounty of flavor and nutrition. Artichokes contain more antioxidants than any other vegetable and are widely used by herbalists for cancer treatment and prevention. They are known to lower your bad cholesterol levels by boosting bile production and promote liver detoxification. Best of all: they are the unsung hero of the hangover cure. Thanks to their positive effects on the liver, many people swear by artichokes as a hangover treatment. Instead of the hair of the dog, try the leaves of an artichoke.