An edible thistle, the globe artichoke rewards those who brave its thorns with delicate flavor and an elegant presentation.
Season: Year-round; peak March through May.
How to Choose Artichokes
Look for deep green artichokes, heavy for their size, with a thorn at the tip of each leaf; they have a nuttier flavor and a firmer texture than the thornless variety. The leaves should squeak when rubbed together and be tightly packed; splayed leaves and blackening on the stem are signs an artichoke is old. The roundest artichokes have the largest hearts.
How to Store Artichokes
Refrigerated and unwashed (moisture speeds decay) in a plastic bag, artichokes can keep for up to a week, but they’re best the day you buy them. If the leaves begin to spread, cook as soon as possible.
How to Prepare Artichokes
To steam whole artichokes, first cut a ½-inch slice off the top, then cut the thorns off each leaf with kitchen shears. Cook the artichokes in a steamer or boiling water until they’re tender and the leaves pull away without too much resistance (about 45 minutes). You can eat the stem or cut it off to make a flat base. You can also pare the vegetable down to its heart and sauté it.
How to Use Artichokes
Pull a leaf off; dip it into a vinaigrette, hollandaise sauce, or melted butter; and draw it through your teeth to extract the soft interior. When you get down to the choke, scrape it out with a spoon and savor the tender heart below. Artichokes can also be stuffed and baked. The cooked hearts make an excellent addition to salads.
Real Simple Artichoke Recipes:
- Fettuccine With Artichokes and Beans
- Cheesy Baked Pasta With Spinach and Artichokes
- Artichoke, Almond, and Parmesan Pasta
- Steak With Artichoke and Cherry Pepper Sauté
- Steamed Artichokes
Fruits and vegetables at their peak right now.
Find out what's in season in your area right now, then locate a farmers' market near you.