Five to Try Series: Ingredient #2 Artichokes

by : Beth R. on Jan 08, 2016
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Artichokes are a mysterious and delicious vegetable with a long history in Italy and beyond. Marinated artichokes are a go-to staple for many Italian chefs, adding texture and flavor to classic dishes. From salads to pizza toppings, marinated artichokes can take any dish up a few notches.

Artichoke Facts:

  • The artichoke is actually the bud of a plant from the thistle family. They’re also one of the oldest medicinal plants, dating back to the 4th century B.C. It wasn’t until the 20th century that they became popular in cooking.
  • Native to the Mediterranean area, artichokes were first eaten by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and were later cultivated in Sicily.
  • Artichokes may be useful in treating chronic digestive problems as well as liver and gallbladder conditions and high blood pressure. They’re also high in iron, Vitamin C and Magnesium.

Artichoke Tips:

  • If you’re feeling adventurous, try trimming fresh artichokes. They’re at their peak season March through May. However, don’t experiment with this if you’re crunched for time or entertaining on the fly. This can be tricky and time-consuming to master.
  • Try purchasing jarred, marinated artichokes rather than canned ones, which can sometimes end up tasting flavorless and soggy.
  • Empty your jarred artichokes into a strainer and rinse before use so the vinegary marinade won’t overwhelm the clean flavor of the artichokes.
  • Leftover artichoke hearts will keep for years when stored in an airtight container, so don't feel like you must use them all at once.

Ways to Try Artichokes:

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