Have you ever heard of an artichoke? If so, you may be familiar with the large, spiky vegetable. But do you know what an artichoke is, what it tastes like, and how to prepare it? Are you unfamiliar with this tasty vegetable, but want to learn more about it?
Artichokes, scientifically known as Cynara scolymus, are a perennial plant from the thistle family. They have a characteristic large, round shape, and thorny exterior. Their exterior is covered in small scales layered together to protect the edible inner portion known as the heart. The taste of an artichoke can be described as slightly nutty, with a hint of sweetness.
Artichokes are most often eaten as a side dish, as they pair well with savory ingredients like ham, lemon juice, and garlic. They can be boiled, steamed, baked, or grilled. When cooked, the exterior turns a golden color and the interior softens. Boiled artichokes can be eaten by dipping the petals into a sauce, such as melted butter or aioli, and then scraping off the soft flesh inside with your teeth. Steamed artichokes can be prepared the same way, but the petals don’t require dipping first. Baked and grilled artichokes can be served as a spread, in salads, on pizza, or added to pasta dishes.
Though they have been popular in Mediterranean cuisine since the 14th century, artichokes didn’t become widely available in North American grocery stores until the 1960s. Today, artichoke plants can be found throughout the world in countries such as Canada, Spain, France, and Italy.
When selecting artichokes, look for heavy specimens with tight, green petals that haven’t begun to split. Artichokes can be stored at room temperature for up to two weeks, however, the best way to preserve them is to store them in the refrigerator. Before refrigerating, the artichoke should be washed, dried and placed in an airtight container with a damp paper towel.
In addition to being delicious, artichokes are also incredibly healthy. They are a great source of dietary fiber, iron, and vitamin C. They also contain antioxidants, which can help with digestion and reduce your risk of developing certain diseases.
Some of the benefits of eating artichokes include reducing cholesterol, aiding digestion, and relieving constipation. Artichokes also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help with conditions like arthritis, and are thought to contain cancer-fighting properties.
So why not give artichokes a try? Whether you choose to boil them, steam them, bake them, or grill them, artichokes are sure to be a delicious addition to your next meal. You don’t have to be an artichoke expert to enjoy them—just make sure you choose a fresh variety and prepare them in accordance with your tastes. Happy eating!