Do you eat artichokes?
Artichokes are everywhere in the grocery store this time of year and they make a delicious treat for dinner. I grew up eating artichokes every once in a while. Back then we ate them with a side of butter sauce and a little extra salt. I learned from a young age how to navigate my way around the “choke” which hides in the middle of the vegetable, lying in wait for an unsuspecting diner.
Artichokes in Paris
When I was a little older, I was once served an artichoke in Paris. I was there for a study abroad semester during my university days. I’ll never forget how surprised my French host family was when they saw that I knew how to eat an artichoke. They had apparently never met an American who had been raised in the ways of this wily vegetable.
Artie the Artichoke
I am also a fan of the Fighting Artichokes who hail from the Scottsdale Arizona Community College athletic department. Despite having no direct tie to that college, I love their mascot, Artie the Artichoke. I first learned about Artie on a trip to Arizona a few years back. According to several news blogs, Artie was selected by the students as the school’s mascot back in the 1970s.
Cooking and Eating Artichokes
Moving on to food and nutrition – here’s a bit about cooking and eating artichokes. Artichokes are low in calories (about 90 calories for an entire large artichoke) and contain potassium and vitamin C along with a good amount of dietary fiber (over 8 g in a large artichoke). Where the extra calories can sneak in, is in the sauce that is typically served alongside the artichoke for dipping. I serve a simple balsamic vinaigrette as the dipping sauce; if you serve melted butter, hollandaise or mayonnaise instead, you will significantly add to the calories you gain from this dish.
Be sure to stop by the shop to stock up on supplies.
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- Rinse the artichokes carefully under water to remove any surface dirt.
- Cut off the stem and place in large pot with about ½ inch of water. If you don’t cook them immediately, the cut part will turn brown when it is exposed to the air – spread a little lemon juice on the base if desired, to preserve the color.
- Cover and cook on medium-high heat for 30-45 minutes until the artichokes are soft and you can easily pull off a leaf.
- Periodically, add more water to the pot as it will quickly boil off if you aren’t careful. I typically set a timer for 10-15 minutes to remind myself to check, and even so, have had many close calls over the years.
- Serve with the sauce of your choice and provide an extra bowl on the table for the discarded leaves.
- Gently pull off the leaves, and pull the bottom fleshy part of the leaf through your slightly clenched teeth to strip off the “meat”. Throw away the rest of the leaf.
- Continue to pull off the leaves one by one and enjoy.
- Using a small knife or spoon, gently remove the top part of the artichoke which includes the "choke" hairs and discard.
- Be careful to remove and discard the “choke” hairs that are inside.
- When the top is removed, you are left with the heart. Enjoy this last delicious morsel.
*If you are planning a more formal presentation of the artichokes, for example if you are serving them to guests, pull off the first layer of the tough outer leaves and/or cut the thorny tips off the leaves before cooking and brush with a little lemon juice to prevent discoloration. When I am serving artichokes at home, I usually don’t bother with this step.
Nutrition information per artichoke: 90 calories; 5 grams fat; 1 grams saturated fat; 0 grams transfat; 0 mg cholesterol; 102 mg sodium; 20 grams carbohydrate; 10 grams dietary fiber; 5 grams protein (values are approximate).