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Braised Artichokes with Garlic, Raisins and White Beans


Even though it's still very warm outside, there's a smell in the air that's distinctly reminiscent of Autumn. I'm not really sure what it is, the air just seems to be a bit spicier and every where you turn fresh produce is at the peak of ripeness.  The other day at the market I found two wonderful artichokes and I woke up this morning craving them for dinner. I was going out though, so  in order to have them ready at the appropriate time, I threw them in my crockpot. Normally, I'd just use water and a bit of olive oil, but I really was in the mood for something more, hence this recipe was born. 

You could make them on the stove top, but you'd need to double the liquid. However, I think that this came out  richer and even more delicious than if I'd used the traditional method. Besides, the smell that permeates the house is just exceptional!

For 4 servings you will need:

2 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 Tablespoons of Agave nectar
1 1/2 full cup of dark raisins
4 fresh tomatoes diced (in the winter used canned diced tomatoes that have been drained)
3 cups of water that you have stirred 2 tablespoons of “No chicken chicken base” into
Two tablespoons of  mixed herbs (freezed dried chives, dried minced onions, dill, chervil
1 tablespoon of granulated garlic
1 teaspoon of very fresh cinnamon
2 extra large globe artichokes
3 cups of cubed butternut squash
Fresh shredded 3 cheese blend (Asiago, Parmesan, Fontina)
2 cans of cannellini beans
Fresh sage leaves for garnish

Place the artichokes in the bowl of a slow cooker and add tomatoes, raisins and the broth into which you have stirred the garlic ,cinnamon and herbs and 1 tablespoon of the cheese blend.  
Drizzle the agave nectar over the artichokes and then the olive oil, cover and cook on slow low heat for 8 hours, adding the beans after the 6th hour.
Periodically open the slow cooker and baste the artichokes with the sauce that is being created.

Steam  the butternut squash until tender and set aside. 

In individual bowls, place  1  cup of cooked squash  and ladle the bean, tomato and raisin mixture over the top. Garnish with the cheese and fresh sage.

The artichokes can then be sliced in half and eaten separately with your favorite dipping sauce. Mine consists of 1 cup  of mayonnaise (or veganaise) with  2 tablespoons of good  vinegar and lots of chopped fresh tarragon!

Serve with a lovely Pinot Noir and some wonderful bread to sop up the sauce. This is the kind of meal that should be eaten outside, with a centerpiece of sunflowers and a simple peach or plum cobbler for dessert!