Artichoke Gondolas

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4 large artichokes, fresh
3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 small eggplant, peeled and diced
2 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
1 tablespoon oregano, chopped
2 cloves garlic,  minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Prepare the artichokes by washing under running water, pulling off the tough outer leaves and trimming the stem so that it can stand upright. Steam until a petal near the center pulls out easily, depending on the size of the artichoke, this can take anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes. Remove from steamer.

Halve artichokes lengthwise, remove and discard the center petals and the fuzzy centers. Remove outer leaves and reserve. Trim out the hearts and chop finely. Set aside.

Pour boiling water over the sun-dried tomatoes and let stand for 10 minutes before draining. Set aside.

Meanwhile, simmer the eggplant in the stock for 10 minutes, drain. Blend the eggplant, tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients in a processor until smooth. Stir in the artichoke hearts. Arrange artichoke leaves on a serving platter. Spoon one teaspoon of the dip onto the wide end of each leaf and serve.



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