Artichokes are one of the more adventurous vegetables to tackle and if you are new to cooking them whole, spring is the best time to work with these bulb-like beauties. Artichokes thrive in coastal climates like California and have a pretty short peak season (from March to May). Their versatility is endless (once you get past the prep work). Enjoy artichokes steamed, grilled, braised or baked!Using a fresh artichoke requires some minimal trimming for steaming whole or a bit more to cut down to the artichoke’s heart, prized for its flavor and tenderness. Remember with all fresh artichoke recipes that you need to scrape out the fuzzy top of the artichoke heart with a small spoon or melon baller and discard it. This recipe for steamed artichokes gives you step by step instructions.1. Steam whole artichokes and serve with Lemon Butter Sauce for dipping the leaves. Or make a quick aioli by whisking chopped roasted garlic cloves and tarragon or chives into mayonnaise.2. For an even easier dip for your steamed artichokes, use your favorite salad dressing.
3. Make a “creamy” dippingsauce (without dairy) featuring walnuts and chives.4. Trim artichokes, steam and cut in half. Fire up the grill, lightly brush chokes with olive oil and grill until tender and lightly charred.5. Stir chopped steamed artichoke hearts into store-bought potato salad or chicken salad.6. Make a tangy refreshing salad with quartered steamed artichoke hearts, orange and grapefruit segments as well as their juices and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss with chopped chives.
7. Make a simple pasta with the bold flavors of artichokes, sundried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese over spinach fettuccine.8. Take whole steamed chokes one step further and place stem down in a large baking dish, pull leaves back gently to spread open and stuff with a mixture of toasted whole wheat bread crumbs, lemon zest, minced garlic and chopped fresh parsley. Bake until golden and heated through.
9. Or, for a protein-packed stuffed artichoke try Baked Artichokes Stuffed with Red Quinoa.10. Create a seasonal artichoke bruschetta. Combine chopped steamed artichoke hearts, sliced green onions, thinly sliced radishes and a light drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Spread over thinly sliced toasted baguette.Now it’s your turn. What artichoke adventure will you take?