Artichokes are the immature flower bud of a thistle. If left to flower, an artichoke’s blossoms can measure up to seven inches in diameter and are a blue-violet color, similar to the milk thistle. They are in the Asteraceae family, which includes flowering plants like the daisy and chrysanthemum, as well as sunflowers, safflowers, and dandelion. Artichokes are grown in France, Italy, Spain, and the U.S. California is home to Castroville, a town 20 miles northeast of Monterey, which has been dubbed the unofficial “Artichoke Capital of the World". This certainly isn't an exaggeration as California produces almost all commercially grown artichokes!
Although there are many ways to go about picking out an artichoke at the grocery store, we have four guidelines to help you shop:
Artichoke can be eaten hot, cold, or at room temperature, and are often enjoyed with some sort of dipping sauce. The dipping sauce can be simple (melted butter or mayonnaise) or a more complex sauce of garlic, butter, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar.
To eat, begin by pulling off one of the outermost petals. Dip the petal, with the white portion facing down, into the sauce of your choosing. The edible part is primarily at the base of the petal, pull the base through slightly clenched teeth to strip off the petal meat. Continue with each petal until you get to the heart. When you get to the heart, remove the choke (the fuzzy layer) by scooping it out with a spoon. The choke is too fibrous to eat in regular artichokes but is edible in baby artichokes. For some, the heart is the most delicious and tender part of the artichoke! It can be enjoyed solo, or with dip. You can refrigerate cooked artichokes, but make sure to refrigerate them within two hours of cooking and to eat them within a few days. The best way to reheat artichokes is in the oven, drizzled with olive oil, and wrapped in aluminum foil. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, unwrap, and enjoy.
There are a million different ways to cook and eat artichokes, show off your favorite by tagging us at @SigonasHome on Instagram or Facebook!