Okay, life imitates art is the correct quote by Oscar Wilde but I thought I’d have a little fun with a great vegetable that’s highly versatile. I’m talking about the artsy looking artichoke.
Fall is a great time to buy artichokes. Although they are available year around from California, peak harvests come in the spring and fall. Great as a side dish, in a salad or as an appetizer, artichokes can be served with a variety of foods.
Kick off your next tailgate party with steamed baby artichokes and dip. Serve roasted artichokes with your Thanksgiving turkey, they kind of resemble pine cones and can really dress up a table.
Artichokes provide the important minerals magnesium, chromium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, iron and calcium. For example, a 25 calorie artichoke provides 6% of the Recommended Daily Value of phosphorus, 10% of magnesium, 8% of manganese, 10% of chromium, 5% of potassium, 4% of iron and 2% of calcium and iron.
In addition to all these important minerals, artichokes are a good source of fiber (12%), vitamin C (10%), and folate (10%).
A good alternative to snacks that are high in sodium and fat, a typical artichoke has only about 25 calories. They are also low in sodium and have no fat or cholesterol.
Look for artichokes at your local grocer or fruit and veggie stand. If you are not familiar with this nutrient dense vegetable, I’ve given some types on how to select, store and cook. Check the end of this post for a delicious artichoke recipe.
How to Select an Artichoke
Choose artichokes that are dark green, heavy and have tight leaves. Avoid those that appear dry and are turning brown.
How to Store an Artichoke
To store fresh artichokes at home, sprinkle them with a little water and refrigerate in an airtight plastic bag. Don’t wash before storing. Stored in this manner, they should last about a week in the refrigerator.
How to Cook an Artichoke
Before you get started, tap the artichoke upside down in the sink to make sure there are no bugs hiding in the leaves. Rinse it under running water. Pull off lower leaves. Remove most or all, of the stem with scissors or a sharp knife, depending on the size of your artichoke. Trim any sharp edges from leaves. Place prepared artichokes in a bowl of water with the juice of two squeezed lemons.
You can steam, boil, microwave, bake, grill, roast, braise, or fry artichokes. I prefer steaming, as it’s the best way to preserve most of the nutrients. Caution: always use a stainless steel knife and pot to prepare and cook your artichokes. Aluminum or iron utensils and cookware will cause the artichokes to turn black.
Bring a steamer or a large stockpot with 1-2 inches of water to a boil, covered.
Place the prepared artichoke in the steamer, stem side down. Steam for 40-45 minutes.
Prepare Lemon-Shallot dip: Slice lemon in half, squeeze half the lemon’s juice into a small dish for dipping. Stir in dill, freshly ground pepper and minced shallots.
*Optionally, prepare melted butter: Melt butter, mix in crushed garlic, if you like.
To enjoy the artichoke, break off leaves, starting with the outer leaf, and dip. Use your teeth to scrape off the flesh of the leaf and the dip. Once you get down to the core, remove the prickly purple “choke”, and indulge in the nutty taste of the best part of the artichoke, that’s the heart. It should be soft and delicious.
*If you are following the Fitness4Her diet, you may want to prepare your dip without the butter. It can be your own personal serving and you can double dip all you like.
Tell us and our readers why you like artichokes so much by leaving a comment below:
~ Karen Ficarelli
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