By Jennifer A. Wickes -
History / Geography:
California touts being the major US producer of artichokes, and France, Italy and Spain are the major European producers.
The artichoke is the flower bud of a thistle plant. Its biological name is Cynara Scolymus.
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.
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.
Artichokes contain high levels of potassium and Vitamin A.
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
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 p