How to Eat an Artichoke: 4 Ways to Pick, Eat and Enjoy
Enjoying an Artichoke
Isn't it fun to see someone try to eat an artichoke for the first time? Often, the artichoke is just left on the plate, or maybe just pushed around a bit. But once you know how to eat the vegetable, it is actually quite tasty and nutritious. And no more pushing it around on the plate.
Native to the Mediterranean region, almost all artichokes grown commercially in the U.S. are from California. In 1986 the artichoke was declared "The Official Vegetable" of Monterey. Available year round, artichokes are at their peak in the spring and fall. Below are tips on how to pick, prepare and eat an artichoke.
But first - what is an artichoke and its nutritional benefits?
An artichoke is a perennial plant and is a member of the thistle tribe of the sunflower family. It is made up of 4 parts. The stem, the heart, the choke (this is the fuzzy part you see that should be cut away and discarded - ideally into your compost bin) and the leaves (at the base of the leaf is the tender part that you eat). Artichokes come in a variety of sizes from large, for entrees, medium for appetizers and salads, and the 'babies' for stir-frying.
According to the USDA, artichokes rank first in antioxidant properties and have powerful phytonutrients (silymarin and cynarin) which have a positive effect on the liver, stimulates digestion, and lowers cholesterol and triglycerides. Additionally, a medium artichoke has more fiber than a cup of prunes. A large artichoke will add 6 grams of dietary fiber (1/4) of the daily recommended amount for adults.
4 Ways to Pick and Enjoy an Artichoke:
1 - Shopping - When shopping for a fresh artichoke, look for a firm globe that is compact and heavy for its size. The artichoke should have large, tightly packed leaves.
2 - At Home - Once you get the artichoke(s) home, until you are ready to prepare them, store them in the refrigerator. Artichokes will keep for up to a week. I put mine in the crisper.
3 - Preparing - One way to prepare an artichoke (after rinsing under cold, running water) is by boiling in 2 to 3 inches of salted water (sea salt) for about 25 minutes, or until the base can be easily pierced with a fork.
But first trim the stem and outer leaves, then trim the prickly tips from the inner leaves. Cut an inch from the pointed top of the artichoke. After boiling, drain with the stem side up. Cool completely. Artichokes can be served with the dip of your choice. When they are cooked, then chilled, they can be kept on hand in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week, according to the California Artichoke Advisory Board. Artichokes can also be French-fried, stuffed, or baked in casseroles.
4 - How to eat - When you eat an artichoke, you pull off one leaf (or petal) at a time. You can then dip it in butter or the dip or your choice. Then you draw the leaf through your teeth to scrape off the tender pulpy part (enjoy!). Don't try to eat the tough ends of the leaves, discard this part. Then scoop out and discard the fuzzy choke. Now you are left with the heart of the artichoke. This part you cut up and eat with a knife and fork. (You may want to try this at home before going to a big party).
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