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artichoke recipesArtichokes

by Jennifer A. Wickes -culinaryjen@yahoo.com

History / Geography:
California touts being the major US producer of artichokes, and France, Italy and Spain are the major European producers.

Science:
The artichoke is the flower bud of a thistle plant. Its biological name is Cynara Scolymus.

Varieties:
There are three types of artichokes: Globe, Jerusalem and Chinese (Japanese). All of which are unrelated! The true artichoke is the Globe artichoke, and there are over 50 varieties!

Season:
March through May

How to Select:
You will want to choose an artichoke that has tight leaves, one that is heavy for its size, with a deep green color and when the leaves are rubbed together, there should be a squeaking sound. Avoid any artichokes that have cracked leaves or are showing any brown discoloration. Artichokes can also be found canned in a brine solution and in a jar in an oil based marinade.

Storage:
Store artichokes unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for no longer than 4 days. After cooking, artichokes can be stored in an airtight container for a maximum of 3 days.

Nutritional Qualities:
Artichokes contain high levels of potassium and Vitamin A.

Additional Facts:
Jumbo artichokes are best for stuffing, where as baby artichokes are best for sautéing. The baby artichokes tend to be more tender, and the rounder the artichoke, the bigger the heart! The bottom of the artichoke is flat and dish-shaped at the stem below the leaves. The heart is the young, bud-shaped inner leaves. It is soft and not yet fuzzy!

Wine Pairings:
Fume Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chenin Blanc

Spices:
bouquet garni, herbes de Provence, marjoram, paprika, parsley and savory

Servings:
1 large or 2 small artichokes per serving

Preparation:
Trim the bottom of the artichoke, so it is flat. Then slive off the top 1/3.

Microwave: Cut off the top 1/3, wrap in waxed paper. Cook for 5 – 8 minutes, and allow to sit for 5 more minutes.

Boil: Cover for 30 – 40 minutes.

Steam: 25 – 35 minutes.

When the center leaves pull out easily, the artichokes are cooked. To remove the fuzzy choke: cool slightly, separate leaves and twist it out. Scrape off fuzz with a round bladed knife or a spoon.

Additional Information (Web Sites)
http://www.artichokes.org

Artichoke Recipes:

Artichokes Stuffed with Smashed Potatoes and Browned Garlic
Serving Size: 4

4 large artichokes
1 1/2 pounds baking potatoes -- cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves -- minced
1/4 cup dry sherry
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon shredded fresh parmesan cheese
Cooking Spray
Fresh Parsley Sprigs (optional)

Working with 1 artichoke at a time, cut off stem to the base. Remove bottom leaves and tough outer leaves, leaving tender heart and bottom; trim about 2 inches from the top of artichoke. Steam artichokes, covered, 20 minutes; cool to room temperature. Gently spread leaves; remove fuzzy thistle from bottom with a spoon. Preheat oven to 375º. Place potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer 12 minutes or until tender; drain. Beat at medium speed of a mixer or with a potato masher until coarsely mashed. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté 2 minutes or until golden. Remove from heat; add sherry, scraping skillet to loosen browned bits. Add sherry mixture, Mozzarella, basil, salt, and pepper to potatoes. Stuff about 1 cup potato mixture into each artichoke. Sprinkle with parmesan. Place stuffed artichokes in an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375º for 20 minutes or until artichokes are tender. Garnish with parsley, if desired.
Source: "Cooking Light, April 1998, p.134"
Copyright: "© Cooking Light"

Artichokes with Roasted-Garlic Aioli
Serving Size : 6

3 whole garlic heads
6 medium artichokes
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt

Remove white papery skin of garlic, making sure not to peel or separate the cloves. Wrap each head separately in aluminum foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until tender; let cool. Separate cloves, and squeeze pulp into a small bowl; discard skins. Mash pulp with a fork; set aside. Cut off stems of artichokes, and remove bottom leaves. Trim about 1/2 inch from tops of artichokes; trim leaves, if desired. Place artichokes, stem ends down, in a large Dutch oven filled two-thirds with water. Add lemon juice and basil; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes or until a leaf near the center of each artichoke pulls out easily. Add mayonnaise, yogurt, pepper, and salt to mashed garlic pulp; stir well, and serve as a dipping sauce with artichokes. (serving size: 1 artichoke and 2 tablespoons dipping sauce)
Source: "Cooking Light, Jul/Aug 1995, page 60"
Copyright: "© Cooking Light"

Cream of Artichoke Soup
Recipe By: TJ Hill - Appetites Catered
Serving Size: 6

1/3 cup unsalted butter
2 cups leeks, white part only -- minced
16 ounces frozen artichoke hearts -- minced
5 cups chicken broth -- unsalted
1/4 cup parmesan cheese -- grated
1/4 teaspoon salt -- to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper -- to taste
1 pint cream

Heat the butter in a large saucepot, over a moderate flame add the leeks, heat and stir for 4-5 minutes. Add the artichoke hearts, heat and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30-35 minutes remove from heat and puree in a food processor or with a hand blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add cream and heat without boiling. Serve hot.

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This article was originally published at Suite 101.

Jennifer Wickes is the editor at "Cooking With The Seasons". This site was voted to be one of the Top 100 Culinary Sites on the Internet! To visit her site, go to: http://www.suite101.com/welcome.cfm/cooking_with_the_seasons.

Or visit her at Suite 101's Food and Drink Community: http://www.suite101.com/foodcenter/.

Or you can join her Yahoo! Based group, Seasonal Cooking: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SeasonalCooking/.


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