Have A Heart and More
Artichokes are a spring and fall favorite vegetable and they are piling up in your local grocer’s now but so many people bypass purchasing them because they don’t know where to start to prepare them. Granted, they are not the easiest and fastest vegetable to cook but a few simple tricks will make you wish you had been enjoying them way before now. The most common variety available is the Globe artichoke, big, often thorny and grown in Castroville, California, the heart of the artichoke growing region in America.
I have heard many stories about how cleaning an artichoke was way too dangerous because of the pinchers on the leaves. An easy way to deal with that is to use a scissors to snip off the pinchers. Most people remove and discard the leaves and stem and think only the central part, know. as the heart is edible when really the whole thing is!
After snipping of the pinchers, I usually remove the lower outer layer of leaves, one or two rows depending on size. The stem is edible too so use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer later and trim the end. Cut ¼ inch straight down across the top of the artichoke and either spread out the leaves with your fingers and use a small spoon to scrape out the hairy inside or cut the artichoke in half down the center right through the stem and use a small spoon to get the hairy choke. This method is the one I prefer.
Now you can prepare the artichoke by stuffing and baking it or boiling it and serving it with melted butter, salt and some minced herbs like thyme. You can find recipes for artichokes on www.ciaoitalia.com