Try an Artichoke!


Serve the family whole artichokes. The kids will be intrigued – and everyone will love the nutty, sweet flavor.

By FamilyTime

 

Globe artichokes, the familiar but odd-looking green vegetable, is greatly admired by epicureans. Although artichokes are available at other times of year, their peak season is from March through June and so while they are still at their best, try them!

Artichokes belong to the thistle family, and their birthplace is the warm, Mediterranean region. Consequently, they show up in the colorful, full-flavored cuisines of Southern France, Italy, Spain, and Greece.

Buying and Storing Artichokes
Artichokes are found in all sizes from small to large. Select those with tightly closed buds whose leaves are not cracked or dry. They should be heavy for their size, with olive green leaves and moist stems. Purple streaking is acceptable.

Artichoke hearts, also called chokes or bottoms, are sold canned and packed in water or frozen. They are also sold in small jars, marinated in olive oil and seasonings and while delicious should be used only for salads and recipes that specify them.

Keep fresh artichokes wrapped in damp paper towels in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Cooking and Serving Artichokes
Before cooking an artichoke, pull off and discard the bottom two rows of leaves. Cut the stem even with the bulb so the artichoke will stand without tipping. Trim the top quarter of the bulb and snip the tips of the remaining leaves. The choke in the center is actually an immature flower, enclosed in the leaf scales.

Figure on one artichoke per serving.

Whole artichokes are tasty steamed in a little water. Put them in a large pan with a tightly fitting lid, add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice to the water to keep the color bright, and steam for 25 to 50 minutes.

Test for doneness by pulling a leaf from the globe. When the leaf pulls off easily, the vegetable is done.

Drain the artichokes upside down on paper towels or in a large colander.

The microwave is a great place to cook one or two artichokes (more than two require a lot of time and you might as well steam them in a pot).

Put the artichoke in a microwave-safe bowl, add about an inch of hot water, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 6 to 8 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Take care when removing the plastic wrap; the steam is very hot.

The classic way to serve whole artichokes is with a dipping sauce such as hollandaise, melted butter, flavored mayonnaise, or a lemony vinaigrette.

Whole, halved, or quartered small artichokes can be braised or roasted. Tiny baby artichokes are sometimes fried.

Anyway you serve them, low-fat, high-fiber artichokes are a welcome treat.