Thursday, May 23, 2013

#127 Roasted Artichokes

It is also called globe artichoke, green artichoke or French artichoke; the ones pictured above are the  buds of the plant that  grows as high as 6.6 feet tall; these buds are picked before the flowers bloom and become inedible. Believed to be a native to the Mediterranean and Canary Islands, it is now largely cultivated in Italy, the world's biggest producer. In the United States, 100% of crops are grown here in California, 80% comes from the city of Castroville in Monterey county, the self-proclaimed "Artichoke Center of the World", which holds an annual  Castroville Artichoke Festival . I bought, cleaned and cooked fresh artichokes for the first time last week. It took a little bit more of work than I expected. Artichoke is a unique vegetable, both in looks and texture...and  some are extremely thorny! It pricked me the first time I held it...I didn't know it had sharp thorns on the tip of the leaves! I read somewhere that once cooked, the thorns will soften and are harmless...uh, after that sharp pain at the grocery store.. No, the thorns needed to go.

 I snipped the outer layers using a pair of scissors, 
and then removed the thorns by cutting the tips with a sharp knife.

             Then, I cut it into halves.

I soaked the artichokes in water mixed with the juice of two lemons, and after a few minutes, I drained  and pat it dry. Arranged on a greased baking sheet, I drizzled some olive oil, and seasoned it with salt and pepper. Then I roasted it in 425 F degrees, turning every 10  minutes, until tender.

Roasted artichokes  with Greek Yogurt Aoili. It tasted good. I learned that artichokes are very nutritious and have medicinal benefits as well. Studies have found this  vegetable to diminish the risk for arteriosclerosis and coronary heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels; it aids in digestion, hepatic and gall bladder function and it has also proved helpful for patients with functional dyspepsia, and may ameliorate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The artichoke  leaves are  a great addition to our diet because according to a study done by the USDA, artichokes have more antioxidants than any other vegetable, it is high in fiber, good for the liver, etc. But I must admit that I like the taste of jarred marinated artichoke hearts better. I will search for other ways to cook it, hoping that my next experience with fresh artichokes  will change my opinion of it. Any suggestions?

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