Season for Artichokes February - May
Completely unrelated to the Jerusalem Artichoke, the Globe Artichoke is the bud of a large plant from the thistle family and has tough, petal-shaped leaves. The edible part of the plant is the flower base which if allowed to blossom, can create a huge, purple and otherworldly flower. An artichoke can look a little bit intimidating with those pokey leaves, but once conquered, are revered for their unique flavor and nutritional profile. Marilyn Monroe was plucked from obscurity after being crowned the Artichoke Queen. So was the artichoke itself.
How to Buy and Store Artichokes
Choose your globes for their dark green color, heavy & round stature and compact leaves, as loose leaves indicate your choke is past its prime (still great for Artichoke Soup). Veer away from globes that look dry or appear to be turning brown. But a slight discoloration on the leaves is a sign of "winter's kiss" or frost damage and is perfectly fine. In fact, growers claim they are actually sweeter. Artichokes can be wrapped unwashed and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Baby artichokes are all the rage lately, and they allow for more ease in preparation compared to their full-sized counterparts. They're small simply because of their placement on the stem, so they never reach full size or develop that inedible choke. If you generally opt for frozen or canned artichokes, consider converting to this baby choke, as all you need to do is remove the tough outer leaves, trim off the top third of the buds and a bit of the stems, and they're ready to go.
How to Cook Artichokes
Once you cook artichokes once (getting over that daunting hump), they will forever be in you culinary repertoire. The simplest way to cook artichokes is by steaming them whole, after clipping the edges of each leaf. To eat, pull off the leaves, one by one, dip them into a special sauce of your choosing, and then scrape the soft flesh (or "meat") from the inside of each leaf with your teeth. Once you've removed all the leaves, you'll arrive at the heart of the bud. Scrape off the hairy choke to reveal a hidden taste treasure, the completely edible bottom — your reward for the work of foraging through the leaves!
Artichokes can discolor easily, but dropping them into a bowl of cold water with the juice of a lemon or a little vinegar will keep them beautiful. One other thing: shake your globes in the sink - petal side down - so that any little critters calling your artichoke home will dislodge.
We love to serve this gorgeous crowd pleaser: Grilled Artichokes With Olive Oil, Lemon & Fresh Herbs Recipe
Health Benefits of Artichokes
Creamy tasting yet fat-fee, artichokes are a super source of fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, iron and potassium, also known for their antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which support the health of your eyes. Considered a liver-cleanser, this diuretic veggie is known to aid digestion, strengthen gall bladder (and liver) function, and reduce overall cholesterol levels.
Why Buy Natural and Organic Artichokes
A fresh, organic and whole artichoke is a nutritional and flavorful treasure. But, this veggie loses much of its nutrients when processed, especially when canned, less so when frozen (but significant nonetheless). Not to mention the hit it takes tastewise. And conventional artichokes are heavily sprayed with pesticides. We buy ours fresh and organic for our health, for the environment, for the taste and for the unique experience of foraging through a whole, delicious artichoke.
Looking for a quick breakfast? Try these delicious whole rolled oats that cook up in just a few minutes. Or make this recipe in large batches on the weekend so you have for the week.