Spring is here and the steady stream of fresh produce arriving into your local market is about to begin. Some of the first vegetables of spring include artichokes. Artichokes are very healthy and peeling off petals, dipping them and scraping them your teeth make artichokes fun to eat for the whole family.
Artichokes are an excellent source of potassium and magnesium. They are good source of folic acid. Here are a few pointers on picking, storing and preparing the freshest and the best tasting artichokes of the season:
At the market: Select compact, heavy artichokes with hard, tight leaves and good green color. Avoid an artichoke with discolored leaves, black spots at the tip, or that are open.
Storage: In the fridge for up to 4-5 days, unwashed, in a loosely open or perforated plastic bag
Preparation: Basic Steamed Artichokes
Cooking whole artichokes can take about an hour, but cutting them in half or quarters before cooking reduces the cooking time less than 20 minutes. Plus, the half or quarter is a perfect serving size.
Directions: Wash artichokes under running water. The pointed ends or the leaves can be removed by cutting off about ¼ inch with kitchen shears. Cut ¼ inch of the stem end of the artichoke off. On a cutting board, hold the artichoke with the stem facing up and cut through the entire artichoke with a large knife. Using a spoon scoop out the "choke" (fuzzy-looking part) and any sharp purple-ish petals. Set each half in a bowl of water with some lemon juice until you are ready to steam them. Steam artichokes in a steamer basket by bringing the water to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Steam artichokes for 15-20 minutes until they are easily pierced at the stem end with a fork.
Serving: Artichokes are often served with a dipping sauce. The sauce can be as simple as melted butter or mayonnaise. You can also tray one of the dipping sauce recipes below.
Eating artichokes: Simply peel off a petal, dip it in sauce and scrape the inside of the petal with your teeth. Once scraped, discard the petal. As you peel off the leaf, it will begin to reveal a culinary treat - the heart of the artichoke. Once the petals are gone, cut the heart into pieces, dip and enjoy the final bites of your delicious artichoke!
Lemon Garlic Herb Butter
½ cup butter
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. lemon zest
In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add garlic and lemon zest. Serve with artichokes
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. green onions
1 tsp. fresh tarragon
Finely chop parsley, green onions, and tarragon. Mix herbs with mayonnaise and serve with artichokes.
½ cup Mayonnaise
1-2 Tbsp. store-bought pesto
Whisk together mayonnaise and pesto. Serve with artichokes.
Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week and So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years. Visit Cheryl online at www.FreshBaby.com for more delicious tips.