How To Serve Artichokes

One of the most underrated vegetables at the supermarket is the artichoke. People often associate these veggies with an “icky” flavor from the time they are very small. The overall appearance and the sound of the name make them unappealing options for children. Unfortunately, since many individuals never try this green superfood when they are young, they grow up avoiding artichokes either because they still think they are unappetizing or they simply don’t know how to cook the tough-skinned, pinecone-shaped vegetable. If you’ve never tried artichokes before, you are missing out on their unique, mild flavor and excellent nutritional content.

An under-appreciated superfood
While learning to cook, you may be surprised to learn that artichokes are actually a superfood. While the term itself will often conjure up colorful images of berries ranging in blues, purples and reds, the smoky-green artichoke is actually rated as one of the top 10 sources of antioxidants by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Antioxidants are extremely important for protecting your body’s cells from harmful free radicals that are believed to play a part in aging, cancer development, heart disease and even Alzheimer’s disease. These free radicals are produced by the body to help with its metabolic process, but when too many are present they begin to attack the body’s enzymes, proteins and cells. Antioxidants help to reduce the number of free radicals and restore balance and wellbeing to the body. In addition to being loaded with antioxidants, artichokes are great additions to a healthy diet because they are are cholesterol​-free and low in fat, sodium and calories.

The easiest way to eat artichokes
One of the simplest methods for enjoying these greens is to eat the fleshy pulp from inside the leaves. This Mediterranean treat will be a fresh alternative to the usual chips and dip served at cookouts and family gatherings. The best part about preparing this vegetable is that it only requires basic cooking skills!

To cook artichokes:

  1. Chop about an inch off the top of the artichoke. Use a pair of kitchen shears to trim the tips off of the individual leaves.
  2. Pluck off small, excess leaves at the base and stem of the artichoke. Chop off the stem as well. This can either be discarded or the outer layers can be peeled away and the fibrous interior can be cooked along with the rest of the artichoke.
  3. Thoroughly rinse the artichoke in cold water. Removing the top to get water under the leaves can ensure that it has been completely cleaned.
  4. Steam the artichokes in a large pot. To do this, fill the pot with a couple inches of water and place a steaming basket in the pot to hold the artichokes. To enhance the flavor of the leaves, you can add salt and a bay leaf to the water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil before turning the heat down to a simmer for 30 minutes.

Once you have cooked the artichokes you can either serve them hot or wait for them to cool down. Many people prefer them hot, because the leaves are soft and the aroma is too mouth-watering! To really wow your guests, serve the artichokes with your favorite dip or a dish of melted butter.

Eating artichokes is actually quite simple. Don’t follow your first instinct to eat the entire leaf. Dip the leaf in your topping of choice and then bite into it near base. Scrape it along your teeth to push out the tender inner pulp of the leaves. Once all the leaves are consumed, use a spoon to remove the fuzzy part of the artichoke, revealing the heart. The heart of the artichoke is extremely flavorful and a treat all in itself!


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