Did you know that the edible part of the artichoke is actually the bud of the plant’s flower? Originating in the Mediterranean region, the artichoke is a variety of a species of thistle. That might not sound too appetizing but don’t let that little fact rob you of the joy of eating its tender heart, inner stem and petals.
Many Delicious Culinary Uses
In season in November, artichokes are one of those miraculous foods that make excellent delivery vessels for pretty much any flavor you like. They work well in many recipes, from pizza and pasta to dips and salads. Artichokes can also be found stuffed with various grains, meats and herbs in numerous ethnic cuisines, including Italian, North African, Middle Eastern and Turkish.
Whenever I go home for a visit over the holidays, my mom stocks the fridge with a jar of marinated artichoke hearts because she knows how much I love them. That’s my favorite way to eat them because their fleshy yet porous inner stem and leaves soak up the oil, vinegar and herbs so well. Prepared this way, artichokes are the perfect addition to any veggie or antipasto plate.
Artichokes can also be enjoyed in beverage form. Not long ago, I visited a Vietnamese restaurant in Vancouver, BC, for a hot bowl of pho, which was accompanied by a cup of complimentary artichoke tea. I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor, which is like nothing you’d expect… earthy and faintly sweet. Made by steeping the artichoke flower, this herbal tea remains one of my favorites to this day.
Like many edible plants, artichokes are low in fat and calories while adding lots of dietary fiber to your diet. They’re a great source of vitamin C, magnesium and folate, with some calcium, iron, potassium and vitamin B-6 thrown in for good measure. In addition, the artichoke flower is one of the most antioxidant-packed foods of the vegetable world.
Give Artichokes a Chance!
Try adding this unique plant to your menu and you’re sure to become a fan. You can try them alongside toasted almonds, steamed zucchini, steamed kale, sautéed brown rice, quinoa, and wheat berries.
What’s your favorite way to eat artichokes? Share your tips and recipe in our comment section or tweet us at @Luvoinc