Get Choked Up

 In Living Plate, Test Kitchen Tuesday

Thank you, spring, for the gift of many long-awaited vegetables.  This brutal winter has us craving your bounty – asparagus, garlic scapes, celeriac, fennel, and radishes.  But no spring vegetable is more coveted than our favorite thistle, the artichoke.  We just can’t get enough and as the weather gets warmer, the piles get higher and the price tags lower. Are artichokes a lot of work to prepare?  A bit.  Are they worth it?  Most definitely!

The artichoke is a cultivated food from the thistle family and is consumed regularly as part of the Mediterranean diet.  Artichokes are flower buds that grow on thick stalks and are harvested before the flower blooms.  The flower bud contains a heart [delicious, meaty center],  the choke [inedible, fuzzy core], and tough petals with thorns that protect the heart.  The meat at the base of the petals is edible and is extracted by pulling the petal through your teeth [FYI – not date food.]  Nutritionally, artichokes provide a healthy dose of fiber and a class of phytonutrients studied for their positive effects on liver health.

Preparing artichokes can be intimidating – here are simple steps to get your artichoke recipe-ready:

  • Trim very tough outer leaves and stem from globe
  • Holding the artichoke at the base, hit top against a hard surface to open it up
  • With scissors, trim all thorns by working around the globe
  • At this point you can steam the whole artichoke – if you want to grill or roast, we recommend cutting it in half or quarters
  • Once you cut an artichoke it will begin to brown – have a bowl of lemon water nearby to submerge pieces while you work

Now you’re ready to go!  These are our favorite ways to enjoy artichokes:

Steamed

Place whole artichokes in a steamer basket over boiling water.  Stuff artichoke with whole garlic cloves then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Cover and steam until a sharp knife inserts through the heart with a little resistance.  You can use an Instant Pot at high setting – time will depend on size: 5 minutes [small], 10 minutes [medium], or 15 minutes [large].  Eat the artichoke from the outside in.  Once you get to the core [your prize!], remove choke with a spoon and savor the meat you worked so hard for.

Roasted

Place whole artichoke in the center of parchment-lined foil.  Stuff artichoke the same as above and wrap to create a sealed packet.  Roast in a 375°F oven for about 20-30 minutes [time will depend on size of globe] – again, inserting a sharp knife into the heart is the best gauge of doneness.

Grilled

Cut artichokes in half, remove choke, and soak in lemon water while you work.  Pre-steam until you have some resistance with knife into heart.  Brush with garlic-oil and sprinkle with salt then grill, cut-side down, until grilled marks appear and the heart has softened.  You can also leverage your hot grill to prepare the roasted artichoke recipe – just place packet on hot grill and cook as directed above.

 

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