A goal for many people in the summer is trying a new fruit or vegetable they have not seen or eaten before. If you have not tried an artichoke, I encourage you to do so. In a study done by the USDA, artichokes rank as the number one vegetable in antioxidant count. Production occurs year round but 1/3 of the crop is harvested between March and May. 99% of all commercially grown artichokes are grown in California.
The artichoke is considered an edible thistle and was prized by ancient Romans as food of the nobility according to The New Food Lover’s Companion book. Artichokes are native to the Mediterranean region of the world.
When purchasing artichokes choose those that have a tight leaf formation, a deep green color and that are heavy for their size. In general, the smaller the artichoke the more tender it will be and the rounder it is, the larger its heart. Artichokes are best used the day of purchase but can be stored unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator up to 4 days. Wash just before cooking.
Cook artichokes in stainless steel, glass, or enamelware only to prevent discoloration and off flavors. Artichokes can be steamed, boiled, or microwaved and are done when the bottoms can be pierced with a knife tip.
Artichokes are low calorie, fat and cholesterol free, low in sodium, and a good source of fiber, vitamin C, folate and magnesium.
Try some this week.