Artichokes are probably the most beautiful and complicated vegetable in the whole world. Gorgeous edible inflorescences with hard, meaty leaves. Those green leaves protect the delicate heart of artichoke. Magic! Artichokes ( Cynara sclomus) reminds me a little of succulents, but they have nothing in common with deserticolous plants. They are in sunflower family, along with endive, chicory and radicchio. Complex structure of artichokes makes the a little difficult to prepare. That’s why I decided to write a short user’s manual! Don’t worry, it’s not like Perec’s book. Step by step I guide you to prepare artichokes for cooking. But first few words about nutrition.
In health department artichokes are really famous. They are widely known since ancient times. They were eaten by rich people, because they help them with their liver problems caused by overflow of alcohol and fat meals.
They good influence on liver and bile ducts is due to cynarin. Cynarin increases bile secretion and inhibits cholesterol synthesis in the liver. It stabilizes cholesterol level in our blood, especially the bad one LDL. Cynarin helps in weight loss and normalise function of bowels. The leaves are the part of artichokes which contains a lot of cynarin and they are used to prepare medications. Extract from artichokes are used to treat elevated cholesterol and liver problems. Cynarin gives the taste of bitterness. In Italy , an liqour made of artichokes is very popular and called Cynar.
Another good thing in artichokes is inulin which works simmilar to dietary fibre. It fill out with water and stabilizes bowel funionction. It also normalises glucose absorption, so it’s good for diabetics. Inulin makes us feel full, so we don’t need to eat that much.
Of course there are a lot of vitamins I artichokes. First of all niacin. Then lots of vitamin C (20% RDA in 100g) and K (12%RDA). Artichokes are perfect source of foliates (68μg/100g, 17% RDA) which are needed in pregancy, but also for heamatopoetic system to work well.
There’s also iron-1,28mg/100g, cooper– 27% RDA and potassium 370mg/100g.
What’s more artichokes contain liver-friedly sylimarin and a bunch of other antioxidants such as cholorogenic acid, caffeic acid etc. Huge amount of antioxidants (ORAC: 6552 μmol TE/100g) makes artichokes perfect cancer defenders.
Besides they are low in calories and full of dietary fiber.
Artichokes, a user’s manual
How to choose good artichokes:
Perfect artichoke should be heavy for its size. The leaves should be be tight and firm. They should squeak when you squeeze them. Mine (on the pics) are not too perfect because leaves are not as tight as should be, but they are heavy.
Meaty structure with a bit of bitterness. Some might say there is a resemblnce to asapragu, but I thinks artichokes have their unique taste. We can cook, bake, grill or saute artichokes.
Companions for artichokes:
They are delicious just boiled with no additions, but you can pour it with olive oil, sprinkle with fresh thyme or parsley. Walnuts, lemon or orange juice are also good. And dips! Garlic, herb sauce or just vinaigrette. Capers are good companions, too. And soon on readeat you can find a recipe for cooked artichokes with almond dip!
1. Rinse every artichoke thoroughly, including the inside (open the leaves). Rub the surface and inside with lemon. You can also drop artichokes in water acidualted with lemon or vinegar. It prevents for turning colour into brown. Lemon will give the lively green colour.
2. Slice off the top 1/3 of the leaves. When cutting the artichokes it’s best to use stainless-steal knife to prevent form discolouration of artichokes. But if you don’t mid about the colour you could use any kind of knife.
3. You can trim off the stem. It’s edible,, but some people don’t like it.
4. Using the scissors or small knife clip the thorns of remaining leaves.
Prepared artichokes look like these one:
5. Cook in the salted water for about 3-40 minutes (depends on size). It’s worth to add a garlic clove, lemon and bay leaf.
Artichokes are ready when the leaves come aout very easily.
Artichokes, how to eat them?
So our artichokes are cooked, but ow to eat them? Start with leaves. Pull off outer leaves, one at a time. The only meaty part in the bottom of the leave is edible. You can use you teeth to scrape the flesh.
Scrape all the leaves, one by one. After a while you will see that the leaves become thinner and purple with no pulp to eat.
It is a sign that we are close to the heart. But first we have to slice off the fuzzy choke. Reber this chokes is not edible!
When we remove the choke we will see the meaty heart of artichoke wich is totally edible.
1 medium artichoke weights about 120g
Nutrition info for one cooked medium artichoke:
protein: 3g;fat: 0; carbohydrates: 14g; fibre 10g
iron: 1mg; calcium: 25mg, zinc:0,5mg