Cooking artichokes

I’ve always wondered who discovered artichoke hearts.  I mean, who would keep going after eating one thorny leaf to discover the delicious, succulent interior?

Artichokes are thistles and the part we eat is the bud in which the flower develops. The Mediterranean countries are the largest cultivators, Italy being the primary artichoke producer.  While they are available year round, spring is the time they are the most plentiful.

A medium artichoke has 60 calories  (that’s before all the butter I like to dip the leaves in!).  They have no fat and lots of antioxidants.  Artichokes have lots of potassium, calcium, iron, fiber, Vitamin C and magnesium.

Many people avoid artichokes because they aren’t sure what to do with them, and they have no idea how delicious they are.  We hope the following information is helpful.

Buying and prepping:

Buy firm and heavy artichokes, with the outer leaves only just beginning to open.  To store, sprinkle with water and store in an airtight bag in the fridge for up to a week.

With a serrated knife, cut an inch off the top of the artichoke.  Cut off the stem so the artichoke can sit upright.

Cooking & eating:

Steam or boil the artichokes until tender, about 30 – 45 minutes.  That’s it.  To eat them, make your favorite sauce or just melt butter.  Pull off each leaf, dip it into your sauce, and scoop off the delicious flesh at the end of the leaf with your teeth.  In the very middle of the leaves is the delicious artichoke heart.  Cut it up, dip in your sauce and devour.

Try Paula Dean’s Three Cheese Hot Artichoke Dip:

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 ounces) block cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 (14 ounces) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • Dash hot sauce
  • Dash Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand held electric mixer until smooth. Then beat in the mayonnaise until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and stir together until combined. Transfer the dip to a pie plate or shallow gratin dish. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is golden brown and the dip is bubbling. Serve hot with crackers, tortilla chips, crostini or veggies.