As vegetables go, the artichoke is one of the most intriguing out there. With its beautiful armour-like exterior and delicious savoury-sweet heart, this vegetable is technically not a vegetable at all but the bud of a flowering plant from the thistle family.
To prepare a whole artichoke, give it a rinse, slice off the top quarter and stem with a knife, and snip the ends of the petals off with scissors to remove the thorns. Prepping a whole artichoke this way is perfect for grilling, baking, and the most common method, steaming.
To steam a whole artichoke, place a steaming basket in a large pot filled with water until it reaches the basket. Place the prepared artichokes in the basket and cover. Bring to a boil and steam until the artichoke petals can be removed by gently pulling – this should take about 30 minutes. To eat, pull off one of the outermost petals – these aren’t edible but the base of the petal holds a scrumptious piece of artichoke “meat.”
To prepare only the artichoke heart for cooking, remove all of the petals, scoop out the choke with a spoon, peel the stem with a vegetable peeler until light green, and rub with a little lemon juice to prevent discolouration. What you’re left with is the best part of the artichoke, which you can eat whole. Roast, fry, dice and sauté, or shave.
When choosing your artichokes, look for tightly-packed leaves; splayed leaves are a sign your vegetables is less than fresh. A couple of brown spots, however, are fine.
Artichokes are a good source of vitamin C and thiamine, some dietary fiber, calcium, phosphorus, niacin and potassium.
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