Hearts of artichokes
Although usually referred to as a vegetable, artichokes are in fact from the thistle family and therefore a flower. Artichokes are well known and mainly grown in the Mediterranean countries.
Most may be familiar with the canned version, but once you try the fresh it will be difficult to go back. Fresh artichokes can be steamed, baked, boiled or grilled. They are not the most easy vegetable to prepare and it does require a bit more work than peeling a carrot.
Don’t let the hard work intimate you and allow yourself to be rewarded with a slightly nutty and extremely delicious result. The base of the outer leaves is edible and you may also find that the thinner inner leaves are very tasteful as well. The center is what you want to get to – that is the artichoke heart and this is where you will reward your taste buds!
Artichokes are loaded with an army of beneficial nutrients, they are rich in fiber, vitamins (A, B6, B12, E, C D & K), minerals (calcium, iron, zinc, sodium, potassium, manganese and phosphorus) and antioxidants (polyphenols, flavonoids, anthocyanin among others). The USDA places them on their list of “top antioxidant-rich foods list” Also not to be missed is that they are a great source of protein – about 4g of protein/artichoke, this is well above the average of protein for plant-based food.
As the artichoke season is relatively short you will be happy to hear that you can freeze artichokes, but do so whole and make sure they are completely drained as they will otherwise turn brown and the texture will change. Once dry, wrap tightly in foil and freeze in a plastic bag (I know we don’t like plastic) so better yet an airtight container. Do not keep in the freezer for longer than 5-8 months. It is not recommended to freeze cooked or sliced artichokes, but they can be stored in your fridge for a few days.
There is an abundance of information on-line on how to cook artichokes as well as recipes, have fun cooking while enjoying the bounty of flavor and nutrition!
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