Harvest of the Month: Artichokes
If anything we grow to eat can be described as intimidating, the artichoke might be it. It looks complex and strong, and it seems difficult to prepare and eat. But fans of the artichoke will say it’s not as imposing as it looks, and any effort required to consume it is well worth it.
A member of the sunflower family (an artichoke is actually a flower bud), the artichoke originated in the Mediterranean, where the ancients considered it a delicacy. It arrived in the U.S. in the early 1800s, initially being grown primarily in Louisiana but later shifting to become a California crop. Now virtually all commercially- grown artichokes come from California, where a young Marilyn Monroe was named Artichoke Queen in 1949.
If you decide to eat an artichoke, shop for one that seems heavy for its size and actually squeaks when you squeeze it. They’re freshest in early spring, and fresh ones can be sprinkled with water and put into an airtight plastic bag and refrigerator to keep fresh for up to a week. You’ll find a variety of options for cooking these nutrient-packed and fiber-rich veggies, ranging from simple steaming to complex recipes.