People tend to shy away from artichokes because they’re “too much work” – whatever that means. Cooking requires some labor, and fresh produce begs to be taken care of when you take it home to your kitchen. Plain and simple, I love the way they taste and the way they look. And like any produce I bring home from the farmstand, it’s worth “the work”.
Artichokes are versatile. They can be stuffed, baked, fried, steamed, or sliced raw for salads. You can eat the steamed leaves, but the best part is inside – the heart of the artichoke.
Best when they’re small and young, artichokes should be firm and squeak when pressed. The green should be vibrant, in some cases mixed with tinges of purple. If an artichoke has brown streaks, it’s probably starting to get old. You want artichokes with the stems attached, which acts as a food supply and keeps it fresh.
I life in California, considered the nation’s epicenter of artichoke production. Peak season is early to mid-Spring, but they also grow for a short time in the Fall.