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Artichokes Demystified: How to Eat These Seasonal, Thistly Favorites

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Artichokes are funky looking. There's no getting around that. After all, they are edible thistles. But once you crack the code to eating them, you'll be addicted.

There are dozens of varieties of artichoke available throughout the world, but most are not widely available in the U.S. The two most common varieties found on American tables are green globe and the purple baby artichokes. Baby artichokes are much smaller than their cousins, the large green globe artichokes, and usually don't have a fuzzy choke. Follow our guide to preparing and eating both varieties to start enjoying this seasonal treat today.

How to Prepare Globe Artichokes

1. Cut the thorny ends off of the tops of the leaves with your kitchen shears.

2. Slice about 1/2 inch off of the top of the artichoke to expose the center of the veggie to heat.

3. Cut off any excess stem, but be sure to leave the base of the stem intact. You can leave about an inch of stem still attached. If you like, you can also cut off and peel the stem for cooking. Be aware, however, that the stem is more bitter than the rest of the artichoke.

4. Rinse the artichoke in cold running water.

5. Put about 2 inches of water and a steaming basket in a pot on the stove. To add a little flavor to your artichoke, you can add a slice of lemon and a garlic clove to the water. After adding your artichokes to the basket, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25-35 minutes or until the leaves are tender and can be easily removed.

How to Eat Globe Artichokes

1. Place the entire artichoke on a plate.

2. Pull off leaves one at a time and dip the fleshy inside end into melted butter or your favorite dipping sauce.

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From the Organic Authority Files

3. Place the fleshy end of the leaf into your mouth and pull the flesh off with your teeth. Keep going until you've eaten all of your artichoke petals!

4. Once the petals are gone you'll need to go mining for the artichoke heart. Scrape off that fuzzy, hairy part that sits right over the heart (it's called the choke and it's not edible). Dip the heart in sauce and gorge away! The rest of the bottom of the artichoke can be chopped up and dipped into your sauce or preserved in oil for salads.

How to Prepare Baby Artichokes

1. Remove the outer leaves of the artichoke (usually about four layers) and cut the thorny ends off the tops of the remaining leaves with kitchen shears.

2. Rinse the artichoke in cold running water.

3. Slice the artichoke in half lengthwise and toss with a bit of olive oil, kosher salt to taste and unpeeled garlic cloves.

4. Roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes (flipping once), or until tender when pierced with a fork. Alternatively, you can sautee the artichokes in butter over medium heat until tender.

How to Eat Baby Artichokes

Eat it all! The baby artichoke, if properly prepped, can be eaten in its entirety. But be sure to be liberal with your outer leaf removal before roasting or sauteing. If you leave on too many leaves, they artichokes will be spiky and tough. When roasted, the artichokes are nice and caramelized and can be eaten by themselves. You can also try them diced over pasta or rice. 

Artichoke Recipes

Once you enjoy the artichoke in its simplest form (steamed and dipped in melted butter or roasted), branch out and try a few of our other artichoke recipes:

If you're an old pro at artichokes, strut your culinary stuff and try mixing some Jerusalem Artichokes into your cooking repertoire. And try our Cream of Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

Keep in touch with Kristi on Twitter @VeggieConverter and Pinterest

Image: mgifford

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