This happened by accident, but it turns out that these ingredients work surprisingly well together. I do prefer fresh artichoke hearts but there really are difficult to find, at least in China. Occasionally, I buy them from Fields China, but mostly, I have to make do with the tinned variety. Once drained, I discovered they make a very creamy vegan pate, the texture is smooth and soft like cream cheese. I decided to add jalapeños, unusually easy to find in imported food shops in China, and the pine nuts as a protein source and flavoursome addition. This is one way to eat pine nuts (also known as cedar nuts). In China, they are easy to find, though the natural unsalted version less so. I only ever see pine nuts toasted and tossed on salads, and only know one recipe (the traditional pesto recipe) that relies on them. Otherwise, I had only ever enjoy them as a snack. Pine nuts are the edible seeds of pines, their culinary uses vary across continents. David Wolfe claims that the anti-oxidants contains in oil-rich foods such as pine nuts are even favourable to beauty when they are eaten raw. This is because the anti-oxidant minerals the oil is rich in can prevent and reverse free radical damage to cell health. Never mind all that though, all you need to know is cold-pressed pine nut oil, if eaten raw, and pine nuts, if eaten raw, are rich in the anti-inflammatory mineral zinc, as well as pinolenic acid which can reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). And never mind all that either, they taste good.
This spicy recipe makes one portion (as pictured above) for to to share with wine as a snack, or as a side dip to a meal.
Artichoke hearts, drained, 1 tin
Jalapeños, chopped, 3 tbsp
Raw pine nuts, 2 tbsp (plus a few for garnish)
Rocket leaves, a small handful
Lemon, juiced, ½
Extra-virgin olive oil, lots of drizzles
Garlic cloves, 2
Sea salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1. Drain and squeeze out the salted water from the artichokes and set aside.
2. Add all ingredients to a blend with the artichokes and blend until smooth, adding more oil and/or lemon juice as you blend if the dip is too thick and difficult to blend.
3. Garnish with a few pine nuts and finely chopped rocket leaves and serve with Lotus Root Chips, rye bread or sourdough bread, or crudités.
Use a fresh herb like basil, mint or coriander instead of the rocket leaves for a different flavour.