I have been eating artichokes since I spoke my first word. It is by far one of my favorite vegetables and I would chose to eat it over most meats and even dessert, they are so yummy! To most people in the U.S. (they are very popular in Italy and other countries) artichokes are considered gourmet and ordered at restaurants and so often when I buy them at the grocery store the cashier will say “What are these?” But what people don’t know is that artichoke are a cheap, healthy food that should be a staple part of everyone’s diet.

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They key with artichokes is buying the proper ones. They only grown in California and are only in season several times out of the year. They can be found at most grocery stores- should be $2-$4 a piece, more at whole foods and Wegmans but worth it if they are large in size. They key is to find ones with long leaves that are pear shaped, almost taper off at the bottom, not round like an apple as these are more bitter and don’t taste as good. Also, if they are really small they are better used for dips. This is how most people are familiar with artichokes- found in dips and sauces but those are just the hearts and made from canned artichokes, the real ones have a totally different flavor.

The easiest way to eat an artichoke is to prepare it by trimming the tips of the leaves (so they don’t cut you) then dipping the tips of the leaves in melted butter. You can boil the artichokes for about 50mins and melt the butter in the microwave. This is quick and easy and takes little effort. Ive also made garlic aioli and have heard of using olive oil with cracked pepper or ranch dressing as a dip. Greek tzatziki would also work ūüôā I’m going to give my recipe for my fav way to eat artichokes- stuffed. These make for a complete meal and are sooo yummy, my grandmothers recipe.

First, cut the tips off the ends of the leaves, these are sharp and cutting them off  makes for easier eating.

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Aritchoke after and before trimming leaves, note the ideal shape of these artichokes

Next, mix together the stuffing- For 4 aritchokes use 1 1/4 cup italian bread crumbs, 1/2 bunch finally chopped parsley, 2-3 garlic cloves chopped finely (more or less to taste), 1/4 grated parmesan and a pinch of black pepper. Take the mixture and stuff it in between all of the layers of leaves- I sometimes make a little extra which you will later add to the ‘broth’.

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Stuffing the artichoke

Once stuffed, place aritchokes into large pot or dutch oven dish. Fill 2/3 way with water, add 2-3 chicken or vegetable bullion cubes. If you have extra stuffing, pour this over aritchokes even if it flows over into the water- this makes a great broth afterwards. Add little pats of butter or oil to the top of each artichoke. Let come to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low, cover, and let simmer 2-3 hours, basting each artichoke by scooping water over it to keep them from drying out. When finished, serve in a shallow bowl with a little scoop of broth. They are sure to lick the plate clean!

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Finished artichoke




{August 12, 2011}