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What’s in Season: Artichokes

Spring is here and the steady stream of fresh produce arriving into your local market is about to begin. Some of the first vegetables of spring include artichokes. Artichokes are very healthy and peeling off the petals, dipping them, and scraping them with your teeth makes artichokes fun to eat for the whole family.

Artichokes are an excellent source of potassium and magnesium. They are also a good source of folic acid. Here are a few pointers on picking, storing, and preparing the freshest and the best tasting artichokes of the season:

  • At the market: Select compact, heavy artichokes with hard, tight leaves and good green color. Avoid an artichoke with discolored leaves, black spots at the tip, or that are open.
  • Storage: In the fridge for up to four to five days, unwashed, in a loosely open or perforated plastic bag

Preparation: Basic Steamed Artichokes
Cooking whole artichokes can take about an hour, but cutting them in half or quarters before cooking reduces the cooking time to less than twenty minutes. Plus, the half or quarter is a perfect serving size. 

  • Directions: Wash artichokes under running water. The pointed ends or the leaves can be removed by cutting off about 1/4 inch with kitchen shears. Cut 1/4 inch of the stem end of the artichoke off. On a cutting board, hold the artichoke with the stem facing up and cut through the entire artichoke with a large knife. Using a spoon scoop out the “choke” (fuzzy-looking part) and any sharp purple-ish petals. Set each half in a bowl of water with some lemon juice until you are ready to steam them. Steam artichokes in a steamer basket by bringing the water to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Steam artichokes for fifteen to twenty minutes until they are easily pierced at the stem end with a fork. 
  • Serving: Artichokes are often served with a dipping sauce. The sauce can be as simple as melted butter or mayonnaise. You can also try one of the dipping sauce recipes below. 
  • Eating artichokes: Simply peel off a petal, dip it in sauce, and scrape the inside of the petal with your teeth. Once scraped, discard the petal. As you peel off the leaf, it will begin to reveal a culinary treat—the heart of the artichoke. Once the petals are gone, cut the heart into pieces, dip, and enjoy the final bites of your delicious artichoke!

Lemon Garlic Herb Butter
1/2 cup butter
One clove garlic
1 teaspoon lemon zest

In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add garlic and lemon zest. Serve with artichokes

Herb Mayonnaise
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon green onions
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon

Finely chop parsley, green onions, and tarragon. Mix herbs with mayonnaise and serve with artichokes.

Pesto Mayonnaise
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons store-bought pesto

Whisk together mayonnaise and pesto. Serve with artichokes.