If you’ve only tried artichokes in a creamy dip at a sports bar, you are in for a treat. Fresh California globe artichokes hit their peak season March through May. On the outside, they’re spiky and tough-skinned, but on the inside they’re tender, delicious and nutritious, we promise!
How to Choose Artichokes
Pick artichokes that have tight green or slightly purple, thick, intact leaves that squeak a bit when you rub them together. The insides of the leaves should be tender green. Go for artichokes that feel heavy for their size — the older ones tend to feel lighter. Small and baby artichokes are generally sweeter and more tender than full-size artichokes. However, full-size artichokes contain more of the edible hearts, so you get more bang for your buck!
How to Store and Prep Artichokes
Preparing artichokes is a labor of love, but well worth it, especially at peak season. After purchasing your artichokes, you can store them unwashed in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Here’s what to do once you’re ready to cook:
- Clean up the artichoke. Wash your artichokes under cold water to remove any grit between the leaves.
- Remove the spikes. Since each artichoke petal ends in a sharp spike, you’ll want to remove all of them before you cook! Using a sharp knife, carefully cut off a third from the top of the artichoke. This quickly removes the top spikes. Using kitchen shears, snip off the spikes on the remaining petals.
- Shorten the stem. The artichoke stem is usually very rough, so use a kitchen peeler to remove the outer skin. Then, cut off the bottom half of the stem until there’s an inch left. You’re all set to steam, stuff or cut the artichoke in half vertically for other preparations.
Cook’s Tip: If you need more time, place any cut artichokes into a bowl of lemon-water to prevent browning as you prepare additional artichokes.
How to Cook Artichokes
Fresh artichokes can be enjoyed in a wide variety of preparations, from basic boiling to braising, stuffing and roasting. It’s usually a good idea to boil or steam artichokes first before your other cooking preparations to make them more tender. Boiled or steamed artichoke leaves will have a mouthfeel similar to boiled potatoes and a mild and pleasant flavor similar to asparagus.
- To boil, place pre-prepped artichokes into boiling, salted water and simmer on low-medium heat for 30-40 mins or until the petals can be pulled off easily.
- To steam, place artichokes on a steaming rack over 1-2 inches of boiling water and steam for 20-30 minutes or until petals are tender and can be pulled off with ease.
- For stuffed artichokes, boil first, then scoop out the choke and stuff the artichoke heart with ingredients such as fresh herbs, garlic, parmesan cheese and olive oil and bake in a 400 F oven until the cheese is melted.
- To grill artichokes, which gives them a woody, smoky flavor, cut your steamed or boiled artichokes vertically and splash them with olive oil before placing them on the grill for 5-10 minutes, or until slightly charred.
- To bake artichokes, wrap cleaned halves splashed with olive oil in aluminum foil and bake in a 400-425 F oven for an hour, or until tender.
You can also try these easy, delicious recipes with artichokes:
- Fresh artichokes: Baked Vegetable Soup
- Frozen artichokes: Tuna Pasta with Olives and Artichokes
- Canned artichokes: Spinach-Artichoke Dip with Crackers
Nutritional Benefits of Artichokes
Generally speaking, artichokes are a low-calorie, low-sodium, saturated-fat-free food rich in essential nutrients. They’re naturally very high in dietary fiber, with just one medium artichoke containing 28 percent of your daily recommended amount. Artichokes are also good sources of key minerals such as potassium, magnesium and manganese, and excellent sources of antioxidant vitamin C, vitamin K and folate. Finally, artichokes are a source of iron and plant-based protein — one artichoke contains 8 percent of your daily requirements for iron and 4.2 grams of protein.
Artichoke (1 artichoke, medium, 128 grams, raw) contains:
- 60 calories
- 4.19 grams of protein
- 0 grams of fat
- 13.45 grams carbohydrates
- 6.9 grams of dietary fiber (28 percent of the recommended daily value)
- 15 milligrams of vitamin C (25 percent of the recommended daily value)
- 18.9 micrograms of vitamin K (24 percent of the recommended daily value)
- 87 micrograms of folate (22 percent of the recommended daily value)
- 76.8 milligrams of magnesium (19 percent of the recommended daily value)
- 474 milligrams of potassium (14 percent of the recommended daily value)
- 0.3 milligrams manganese (16 percent of the recommended daily value)