If you find yourself wondering how do I eat this vegetable, well, you are not alone. Let’s get to know more about artichokes.
An artichoke is a large flower bud that is a member of the thistle family (thistle is a name given to flowering plants that have leaves with sharp prickles or thorns.) The tough leaves or outer petals along with the thorns are a protection from the inner tender heart. Beware of artichokes that are thornless, they have smaller hearts and less flavor.
The choke is actually the bloom of the bud, and the hardest obstacle that stands between you and the artichoke heart. The choke is stringy and fuzzy, and very unpleasant! The fibrous choke is not harmful if eaten, however should be discarded.
So what is edible? The base of the large outer petals (leaves), the tender meaty flavorful heart, and the center of the stem.
Enjoy your artichoke hearts on pizza, in casseroles, sautéed for sauces and in dips, or indulge on the base of the petals by dipping in olive oil or sauces. You can prepare your own artichokes in your kitchen or look for ready to use canned artichokes and frozen artichokes at your local grocery store.
How to Select & Prep your Artichoke – this is a short lesson in getting your artichoke ready for your recipes!
Step 1: Start Fresh
Look for artichokes with firm and compact heads and fresh-cut stems. Fresh artichokes should have tight green and purple petals that form a hole in the center of the vegetable. Stems should not be dried.
Once you pick your artichoke, rise under cool running water and use a soft kitchen or vegetable brush to remove any residue. Rinse slowly to avoid pricking hands and fingers with thorns.
Note: unwashed artichokes stay fresh for 3-4 days when stored in the refrigerator vegetable drawer, and up to 1 week if stored in an airtight container.
Step 2: Stem Work
Depending how you want to cook your artichoke, will depend how much stem to cut off before preparing. If you plan to steam, discard the whole stem so that the artichoke can sit when steaming and serving. If grilling or roasting remove only the brown edge and peel stem.
Step 3: Trim Thorns
Use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut off the thorns and tips of the leaves/outer petals. Work your way all around making the artichoke look smooth.
Step 4: Top off the Crown
Carefully cut off the top tip, or the crown, of the artichoke. This step saves some time when steaming whole artichokes, and makes for great presentation. When steaming, place artichoke upside down so petals steam evenly.
Step 5: Ready to Cook!
You have selected, cleaned, and prepared your artichoke for good measure. Now it is time to enjoy the delicious vegetable! Artichoke is flavorful roasted, grilled stewed, steamed, sautéed, and even baked. For less time preparing and more time enjoying, try steaming in the microwave or pressure cooker.