Bright, fresh and delicious, artichokes are extremely versatile and highly nutritious. Here's what you need to know about choosing, storing and preparing artichokes -- plus a few simple and tasty artichoke recipes.
How to buy artichokes
Look for locally grown artichokes at your farmers market or grocery store from early spring to early fall, when they're in season. Keep these tips in mind:
- Choose bright green artichokes with few brown spots.
- Check the tips for brown, dry spots.
- Choose artichokes that are firm, heavy for their size and with tight leaves.
- Bigger doesn't necessarily mean better; some varieties are smaller (baby artichokes) and some are larger (globe artichokes). Simply pick the size that will work for your recipe.
- Choose artichokes that are as fresh as possible so the leaves are nice and tender.
Storing & cleaning
Once you get the artichokes home, store them in the crisper drawer (not in a bag or container) of your refrigerator. They should last two to three days before needing to be prepared.
When you are ready to eat them, rinse the artichokes under cold running water, gently pulling back the leaves to get rid of any dirt and debris stuck in the leaves.
Preparation varies with your intended use:
- If you are eating them whole, slice off about 1/4 inch from the bottom stem and peel off some of the small leaves at the bottom. If the tips are super pointy, cut a bit off so no one gets poked while eating.
- If you are roasting the artichokes, cut them in halves or quarters.
- If you plan to stuff them, slice off all the tips and scoop out the middle section.
What to do with artichokes
With so many ways to prepare artichokes, you just need to be creative. One favorite way to enjoy artichokes is steamed whole; to eat, you peel off each leaf and scrape the meat off with your teeth, typically after dunking in a dip.
They're also delicious stuffed with crabmeat, other vegetables, cous cous or a variety of other items. You can even grill them, bake them in the oven, or mix them with pasta. Just remember to dig to the bottom of the leaves -- the tastiest parts.