Food for Thought
With its pointy, prickly leaves, the artichoke is a rather daunting-looking plant. But don’t let its odd looks deter you; getting to the heart of this plant may take some extra effort, but it’s worth the wait.
Health Benefits. Artichoke is very high in fiber, potassium, calcium, iron and phosphorus. It is also known to improve liver and bladder function and may lower blood sugar, improve digestion, alleviate migraine headaches and help eliminate toxins from the body. Plus, artichokes have only about 25 calories each (so long as you refrain from dipping them in melted butter or spicy mayonnaise!).
Selecting the Best Fruit. Available year-round, the most common variety of artichoke is the California-grown globe, which ideally should be large and round, with all green or purplish leaves. (This is considered the “true” artichoke and is not at all similar to the Jerusalem artichoke, which is an entirely different plant.) Always pick the heaviest artichokes, and make sure their leaves are tightly closed.
Storage. Keep artichokes unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Use. Rinse thoroughly under running water. Trim a half inch off the top leaves, and leave an inch on the stem. Discard tough outer leaves. Steam for about a half-hour, until leaves pull off easily. Artichokes can also be fried, stuffed, or cut and used in other dishes.