Food Is Love in Many Ways

Here at Tarrant Area Food Bank, we celebrate Food Is Love month in February. It is a time when we take a step back to appreciate the food we nourish our bodies with every day and really examine the role of food in our lives.

We take time to prepare nutritious foods for the ones we love. We celebrate with food, comfort each other with food, and offer food as relief in times of need.

In the Community Garden program, we are busy tending to our cool season crops and working hard to care for the seedlings that will be planted once the weather starts to warm. Our seed-starting shelves are full of tiny sprouts that will become delicious produce to feed our hungry neighbors.

Closeup of artichoke

At the Heart

One thing that is safely growing inside during the last months of winter is artichoke seedlings. Artichoke plants are beautifully exotic looking and are unique compared to other warm season crops. The leaves of the plant grow up to three feet long and have big, toothy lobes. They are a beautiful soft green color that stands out among the bright and dark greens of most vegetable crops. Artichoke plants are perennials that remain a striking presence in the garden from year to year.

As the weather warms in March and April, tall shoots will rise from the center of the plant, adorned with a purple or green artichoke sphere. The part of the artichoke that we eat is the bud. The tender, meaty part around the center is appropriately called the heart. If left unharvested the bud of the plant will turn into a bright purple flower.

Cooking with Love

Artichokes are the featured vegetable in our March 6 Kitchen Garden Cooking School Harvest Series class. In this class TAFB staff and volunteers will provide guidance on what to do with the artichokes from your garden. Attendees will receive instruction on how to grow artichokes successfully, information on the nutritious qualities of artichokes, and three healthy recipes featuring artichokes.

In order to encourage healthy food choices, we believe it is critical to create meals that are not only nutritious and cost-effective, but also bring delight to your family. One dish we feature in our Harvest Series class is Artichoke Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms. This recipe is quick and delicious. It is full of fiber and protein and uses artichoke hearts!

Artichoke Spinach Stuffed Mushroom

Artichoke Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe

Download printable version of this recipe with some helpful tips and facts about artichokes.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Serves: 8

Serving Size: 1/2 large Portobello mushroom

Ingredients
  • 4 whole, large Portobello mushrooms
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 (8-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 can artichokes, quartered and drained
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • Red pepper flakes (to taste)
Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Clean and hull mushrooms with a melon baller.

3. Combine all other ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir to mix well.

4. Spoon mixture into hulled mushrooms.

5. Top with a light sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.

6. Bake at 350 degrees until the tops are browned, about 25 minutes.

Substitutions
  • Use smaller mushrooms to serve as a bite-sized appetizer.
  • Experiment with additional ingredients: onions, garlic, tomatoes, fresh thyme, anchovies, bacon or sausage.
  • Substitute kale, Swiss chard, arugula or mustard greens from your garden for the frozen spinach.

Recipe by: As the Bunny Hops

As you celebrate Food Is Love month with us, think about the journey your food takes in order to end up on your plate. Tiny seeds are planted; seedlings are cared for and encouraged to grow. Many produce items come from plants that grow for months to be able to provide a delicious and nutritious end product. Food requires love in every step of the process. Food is love from seed to plate.


For more information about Kitchen Garden Cooking School workshops and other classes offered by TAFB’s Community Garden program, please visit tarrantareafoodbank.eventbrite.com.

By Becca Knutson
Community Garden Coordinator, Tarrant Area Food Bank