Time for Fresh Artichokes

Springtime artichokes

Meg, the manager of the East store, and Jerome, the East produce manager, were sharing stories the other day about their first impressions of fresh artichokes. What were these strange vegetables at the market? And how do you even prepare them?

How about you? When did you first get to know this the somewhat prickly, thorny, enigmatic vegetable? Tell me how those things are even edible! Maybe you are familiar with the glass jar or olive bar variety, but haven't been sure yet about how to cook a fresh artichoke yourself. Read on for our tips...

Not only are fresh artichokes edible, they are delicious, too—especially when in season, as they are now. Although they can be grown all year long, artichokes are at their best from March through May, making right now the perfect time to try one.

The nutty flavor of artichoke pairs especially well with cheese, particularly Parmesan and mozzarella. If you like the flavor of a classic spinach artichoke dip, you’ll be sure to enjoy fresh artichokes, especially once you know what to do with them.

To pick out your artichoke, look for these main qualities:

• Bright green in color

• Little to no black blemishes

• Tightly closed leaves

How to prepare an artichoke:

• Once you've selected your artichoke, start by trimming off any spikes at the tips of the leaves.

• Steam the artichoke for about 25 to 45 minutes, or until the leaves can be easily removed.

• The white flesh at the base of the leaves can be dipped in butter, mayo, or any sauce of your choosing: homemade aioli is the one many people like best.

• After you’ve removed all the leaves you will be left with the fuzzy center, known as the “choke.” Using a spoon, scrape away all the fuzz, in order to expose the heart of the artichoke. The heart can then be cut up and dipped in sauce (or added to one) for a rich Vitamin C-filled snack!

Artichokes can also be used as a pizza topping, an addition to stir fries, or mixed into a salad.

If you still aren’t sure how to pick out an artichoke, or want to learn more about what to do with them, feel free to ask our friendly shopkeepers in the produce aisle!

Find even more meal ideas, cooking instructions and tips on picking the perfect artichoke at the Co+op Kitchen.