Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ingredient of the Day: Artichokes

My family comes twice a year to visit from Oklahoma, and as they are driving that 27-hour drive, their excitement grows with anticipation for the fresh produce they’ll see along the way. As they drive closer and closer, Mom and I discuss all of the delicious things that are available in California but not in Oklahoma. One particular item that we all salivate for are artichokes. My hat goes off to the person who thought to first eat this strange and seemingly unrewarding vegetable. It is truly delicious treat.

It still amazes me when I come across an adult that has yet to eat an artichoke. Better still is watching someone eat an artichoke that has never done so, and listening to that person describe how to scrape the MEAT off of the leaves. It is a priceless moment.

When buying an artichoke, make sure that it is heavy for its size, and that when you squeeze it, the leaves make a “squeak” sound. If you are noticing that the leaves have brown tips, this could be an indication that the artichokes have had a bit of frostbite, and might not taste as fresh.

Native to the Mediterranean region, artichokes are extremely good for you. They contain only 25 calories, are fat free, and are a good source of vitamin C, folate and dietary fiber. Artichokes are a delicious part of any healthful diet, and taste great in just about anything. Enjoy experimenting with them!

Happy Cooking!