Fresh from the Source

Artichokes

While there are all kinds of ways to include artichokes in dishes, artichoke lovers seem to agree that nothing beats sliding the freshly steamed leaves (dipped in all manner of sauces) through your teeth, one at a time. Talk about the ultimate slow food! Artichokes contain cynarin, a compound that stimulates taste buds, so they’re thought to make everything else they are eaten with taste better. Of course, if you enjoy artichokes you won’t pass up the opportunity to top your pizza or paella with them, either. Go ahead and indulge; they’re a good source of dietary fiber and vitamin C, low in calories, and fat free!

Flavor Profile

  • Unique, nutty flavor

How to Choose a Good One

  • Choose dark green, heavy artichokes with tightly closed leaves (Leaves that look open are past their prime)
  • Check for black blemishes by pulling back one leaf
  • Should not be brown or dry, though in winter a bronze color does not affect quality
  • Store in a plastic bag, unwashed, in the refrigerator. Use within 4 days
  • Keep dry to prevent mold growth
  • Freeze after blanching (Freezing raw will cause the chokes to turn brown and detract from the taste)
  • Use a stainless steel knife and pot when preparing, because iron or aluminum will discolor artichokes

Peak Season

  • CA artichokes are available year round, but peak season is spring, March through May and again (to a smaller degree) in October.

Nutritional Highlights

  • Good source of vitamin C, folate, potassium, and magnesium. Good source of dietary fiber
  • Low in sodium and calories and fat-free

General Use

  • Cook entire artichoke; slip each leaf individually through teeth, extracting the heart
  • Dip leaves in sauce, mayo, aioli, lemon juice, or butter
  • Remove the inedible “choke,” the fuzzy part remaining after all the petals are removed, Then eat the remaining bottom of the artichoke (the heart), by cutting into pieces and dipping into sauce
  • Stir fries
  • Pasta dishes
  • Salads
  • Stews
  • Pizza
  • Paella
  • Frittata
  • Use small artichokes for pickling, stews, casseroles, salads
  • Use larger artichokes for stuffing

Complements

  • Ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, Mozzarella cheese
  • Mayo, aioli
  • Shallots
  • Lemon
  • Fennel

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