Hi everyone,

Continuing on with our A is for month…. the Artichoke!

If there is a specific vegetable season that I wait for in MN, it is artichoke season because then we can actually afford to buy them. They are a favorite with everyone in the family. (I am serious, including our 4 year old grandson, who actually asks for them). With five in the house at one time, it was a real treat and a dent in the grocery budget, but worth every bite!

Artichokes need a cool climate for optimum growth and that is why you will find them primarily along the coastal areas of California in the spring and summer and inland areas for winter growth. Artichokes, a member of the thistle family (sunflower plant),  are hardy plants and produce their crops for about ten years. The artichoke we eat is actually the plant’s flower bud.

Artichokes are interesting to look at and might be intimidating for first-time cooking and eating. Look for a compacted artichoke. It should feel heavy and not be browned on the leaves. The leaves also feel a bit squeaky when you rub them. If the leaves look a bit blotchy or white, they could be the frost-kissed winter crops and are quite sweet.

Artichokes are easy to prepare and even more fun to eat. Ocean Mist has an excellent video series on cooking artichokes. It is well worth the few minutes to watch (or read the text if your prefer). http://www.oceanmist.com/products/how-to-prepare/index.aspx

As for eating them… what fun – pulling off the leaves, gently pull the bottom of the leaf through your teeth to remove the tender meat on the leaf. Discard the remaining part of the leaf and keep on going until you get to the heart… yum! Remove the choke part from the heart and you then have, in my opinion, the sweetest and most delish part of the artichoke.

Besides being a wonderful taste treat, the other great benefit of the artichoke is that it provides anti-oxidants, fiber, and nutrients in 60 calories for a large artichoke… of course, that doesn’t include the butter or mayo for dipping. You can buy the hearts jarred in olive oil and seasoning and I will use them in salads or on an antipasti platter. I also buy the canned artichoke bottoms (the heart of the matter) and rinse them for use in salads and on our veggie pizza. Frozen artichoke hearts are also available and provide the base for a favorite appetizer in our house.

Artichoke Hearts Wrapped in Bacon

  • 1 box frozen artichoke hearts
  • 4 – 6 slices bacon, cut in half (depending on the number of artichoke hearts in the box)
  • onion salt

Cook the frozen artichoke hearts per package directions until crisp-tender. Drain well and sprinkle lightly with onion salt.

Wrap one half strip of bacon around each artichoke heart and secure with a toothpick. Broil, turning to brown, until bacon is done.

So, I hope you will give them a try this spring. They are such a healthy addition to your meals, fun to eat and there are some cool recipes out there waiting for you to try.

Take care,

Judy

Posted by admin, filed under Alphabet Posts, Healthy Food, Random Recipes, Vegetables. Date: February 20, 2011, 10:58 am | 1 Comment »

One Response

  1. Jen Says:

    I keep forgetting about artichoke, thanks for the reminder it will be on my shopping list this week. 🙂