Now that the spring season is upon us, you’ll begin to notice artichokes appearing more frequently in your supermarket’s produce section. Not only will they be more abundant in supply, but they’ll be at some very budget-friendly prices. Spring is “artichoke season” and it’s the time to enjoy these delicious veggies. Artichokes are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, folate and magnesium, so even more reason to indulge.
While I find that most people enjoy artichokes, many don’t purchase the fresh variety because they aren’t sure how to properly prepare them. Growing up and being part Italian, artichokes were always part of our holiday celebrations. Having watched my mom prepare them for so many years, I know that making them isn’t as difficult as many people think. Fresh artichokes can be prepared in a number of different ways, but I’m going to focus on two that I know are the most popular. To begin, there are Stuffed Artichokes.
Everyone has their own version of this recipe. I’ve seen artichokes stuffed with just some breadcrumbs and garlic, some people will add diced tomatoes and parmesan to the mix. I’ve even seen chopped meat added as well. The above link/recipe uses ricotta cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic, parmesan, lemon, parsley and olive oil for the mix, making it a substantial and flavorful filling. The leaves are eaten, one by one and some filling is on each leaf. Since stuffed artichokes tend to fill me up, I would serve this with a light side like a salad or broth-based soup.
Now, for my favorite way to enjoy fresh artichokes (and the way my mom always prepared them)–Steamed Artichokes.
This version is really simple, focusing on the flavor of the artichoke and whatever additional flavors you add such as garlic or lemon (like in the above recipe I’ve included). After steaming the artichokes so that the leaves were tender, my mom put them in olive oil and a lot of garlic with some chopped parsley. We would sit and eat leaf after leaf, working to get to the reward–the artichoke heart–at the center of the veggie.
Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has enlisted the help of Michael Marks, Your Produce Man, to help you learn how to Prepare an Artichoke in this quick “how-to video.” In addition, Your Produce Man has more tips on how to stuff, steam and boil artichokes. So, visit your local grocery store and take advantage of the in-season flavor and great prices of this spring veggie while they last!