Artichokes: The Best Vegetable You've Never Eaten

Master The Art Of Artichokes!

Even many people who really enjoy vegetables don't have a clue what to do with an artichoke. That's a real pity since artichokes may just be one of the most flavour- and nutrition-packed vegetables in your supermarket. There are various different ways of enjoying artichokes, but nothing beats the most traditional, time-honoured and savoury Italian manner of preparing artichokes.

It's really simple, it will astound your friends and family, and tastes like no vegetable you've ever tried before. Artichoke prepared in this manner has a "meaty" texture and a creamy herbal taste that simply has to be experienced to be believed.

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Select fresh, green artichokes that are globed, or round in shape and are nice and heavy. Wash the artichokes completely on the outside. Cut off a bit of the shriveled end of the stem.

Place them into a steaming vessel. You can use a covered microwave bowl or Chinese bamboo steamer. Keep in mind that the traditional way of preparing them is to boil them in very salty water. Depending on your cooking method, the artichokes should be ready within 20 minutes. You'll know that they're ready when the base stem of the artichoke becomes medium-soft to the touch but not yet mushy.

Start peeling the artichoke from the base. You might want to discard the first lower layer of smaller and tougher leaves. Be careful that the very top of the larger leaves has a tiny thorn.

Once you have your leaf off, dip it into a mixture of extra virgin olive oil with a few drops of fine aged balsamic vinegar to taste, plus a squeeze of lemon, some salt and freshly ground pepper. Some people like to dip theirs in mayonnaise or honey-mustard dressing. Experiment to find your favourite.

Dip the lower, meatier end in, the top of the leaf is not generally edible. Now comes the strange part. Holding the dipped leaf by the top end, (and being careful with that little thorn) place the leaf halfway past your teeth. Gently bite down on the leaf and then slowly pull it out. The inside of your teeth will scrape off the heavenly-tasting artichoke pulp. Continue this, leaf by leaf, until you are down to the heart of the artichoke.

You'll find that there is a "hairy" type of center. With a spoon gently scoop around the artichoke to remove and discard the "hair." You are now at the best part of what is already a gourmet delicacy. Dip the heart in the vinaigrette and enjoy!

Try it, you'll like it!

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