Back to Basics: Artichokes

Name: Artichoke; Cynara cardunculus. The word artichoke is derived from the Italian words articiocco and articoclos.

Origins: Believed to be one of the oldest vegetables in the world, the artichoke was first referenced as being cultivated in regions of Southern Europe around the Mediterranean in 300 B.C.

Nutritional Value:  Artichokes are high in vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, fiber, and folate. They also have significant levels of silymann, an antioxidant that targets the liver, gallbladder, and digestive tract.

Peak Season: March - May

Prep: Pick artichokes that have bright green, tightly closed leaves, and feel heavy for their size. To prepare an artichoke for cooking, remove any tough outer leaves, and snip off sharp pointy tips. Gently pull open the leaves to reveal the fibrous center, called the 'choke', and remove with a teaspoon, as well as any smaller surrounding leaves. Artichokes come in a variety of sizes; smaller, "baby", artichokes are almost entirely edible as they have more tender leaves and do not have the fibrous inner choke that needs to be removed from larger varieties. Artichokes can be steamed, boiled, grilled, or roasted. Often they are served with butter or aioli to dip the leaves in, scraping the tender portion at the base of the leaf with your teeth and discarding the top.

Recipe: Roasted Baby Artichokes with Garlic

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