Springtime is upon us and so are these delicious vegetables, artichokes! With their nutty, yet mild earthy taste, (similar to beets, but much milder), getting sweeter as you get closer to the heart, and a multitude of options in which they can be used in makes them a fabulous vegetable!
The word “artichoke” is derived from the arabic word al-qarshuf. Through the course of time its spelling and pronunciation has varied, but once it came to the English language, primarily from the French language where it was called artichaut, came the current spelling and pronunciation.
Artichoke season runs mainly from March to June, and then again for a period of time in the fall months. Most of the U.S. grown artichokes come from California, so it might be a bit challenging to find these at your local farmers market.
Artichokes vary in color from dark green to purple, and common varieties include Green Globe and Big Heart. These peculiar looking vegetables are a great source of fiber, with one medium artichoke offering 10 grams. They also are rich in vitamin C, folate and potassium, and are high in antioxidants too!
When it comes to buying artichokes, you want to find ones that are heavy for their size. Look for tightly closed, olive green leaves, and moist, healthy stems. A few purple streaks on the leaves are acceptable, but limp, brownish globes should be passed by.
Keep artichokes loosely wrapped in plastic in the fridge. Fresh artichokes will last up to a week, but like all veggies are best the sooner after harvest they are used. For refrigerated storage, slice a dime width off of the artichoke stem, sprinkle the raw artichoke stems with water and refrigerate in an airtight plastic bag. Cooked artichokes should be cooled completely and covered before you put them in the refrigerator, where they can keep for up to a week.
Cleaning and cooking artichokes is considerably easily once you know what you are doing. Check out these great visually aided steps on how to clean and cook an artichoke.
Artichokes are one the most versatile vegetables, lending their tasty and mild flavor to any dish possible. A fun way to serve artichokes is as a healthy alternative to chips! Their leaves are a great and healthy vessel for salsa, guacamole, and any other favorite dip. As we all already know, artichokes make a tasty dip with spinach, but they also make a flavorful addition to soups, flat breads, and just plain as a snack.
To introduce the flavor of artichokes to our little ones, this fabulous lemon-artichoke hummus would do the trick. Pair it with some celery stalks, carrot pieces, or whole wheat crackers and they’ll be sold! Toddlers would also enjoy these Grilled Artichoke Pesto Zucchini Bites. Simply swap out the parmigiano reggiano cheese for any vegan cheese of your choice and as always using prepared artichokes from scratch is best if you can do it!
The whole artichoke itself can be used as a serving bowl, too! You simply take out the center portion of a cooked artichoke (this part is the small tender leaves and the choke) and fill it with whatever you like. This would be fun for toddlers, they can eat their bowl! A vegetable chili or even this vegetable paella with artichokes looks absolutely delicious and perfect to fill an artichoke bowl with!
Since the weather is getting nice and warm, adding artichoke sections to your grilled vegetable variety is a great way to take advantage of good food and great weather!
What is the most creative way you’ve cooked artichokes? Let us know!
Written by: Anna Cayot
Angelo, D. (2011). Spring Fling: All about artichokes. Retrieved from: http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/2011/05/18/in-season-artichokes/
Ocean Mist Farms. (2014). All about artichokes. Retrieved from: http://www.oceanmist.com/products/artichokes-2/
Watson, M. (). All about artichokes. Retrieved from: http://localfoods.about.com/od/artichokes/tp/aboutartichokes.htm
Williams- Sonoma Kitchen. (2000). All about artichokes. Retrieved from: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/tip/all-about-artichokes.html
cover photo-http://artichokes.org/top photo- http://www.oceanmist.com/artichokes/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/01/arti-anatomy.png; bottom photo- http://www.babble.com/best-recipes/artichokes-how-to-serve-the-green-flower-veggie-to-your-kids/