Wondering “What Is an Artichoke and How Do I Eat It?”
So what is an artichoke exactly? This quirky yet fascinating vegetable often leaves people intrigued, slightly baffled, and perhaps a little choked up too (pun intended). Artichokes are incredibly popular throughout the nation, and nowhere more so than in California. In fact, they’re our official state vegetable. So get ready to dig in as we get to the heart of the matter and answer all of your most pressing questions.
What Is An Artichoke Anyway?
Let’s get down to basics. An artichoke is – get this – a type of thistle belonging to the sunflower family. It’s got a unique look and an equally intriguing taste. Originally from the Mediterranean, they are now one of an elite group of 19 domestically grown fruits, vegetables, and nuts that are ONLY grown in the Golden State.*
*This means California grows 99%+ of the available commercially produced crop in the United States. Statics according to the CDFA
Are Artichokes Vegetables Or Flowers?
An artichoke is a vegetable. The part that you eat, however, is not actually a vegetable, but a flower bud!
In California, artichokes are always in season! From March to May and again in October, fresh artichokes are at their prime, flaunting the best in flavor and texture. It’s the perfect time to celebrate and savor them at their peak. However, you can enjoy them all year round by using canned, jarred, and frozen artichokes throughout the rest of the year.
Artichoke harvesting requires a keen eye and a specialized skill set. Crew members evaluate artichokes for size quickly, and then in one fell swoop, slice the choke from its thick stem and toss it over their back into a special backpack called a canasta.
If you are planning on enjoying fresh artichokes when they are available, it’s important for you to know how to prep them from start to finish.
Prepping fresh artichokes can be an intimidating task when you have never done it before, but the process is quite simple. Meg of This Mess is Ours has broken down everything you need to know from start to finish.
An Artichoke Recipe For Every Month Of The Year
Now that you know that you can enjoy artichokes all year long, we’ve prepared an artichoke recipe planning companion to put all of your new knowledge and techniques to the test. Prepare to indulge in 12 of the most delicious recipes we’ve ever tasted.
Our Lemon-Laced Artichoke Cupcakes are quick and easy to make with no special equipment needed!
Canned artichokes packed in water shine in these subtly spiced cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Honestly, these spiced cupcakes are equally as delicious on their own as breakfast as they are iced as dessert.
Canned artichokes and frozen spinach are true winter warriors that come together almost effortlessly in this recipe that is sure to be a fan favorite.
Pro tip: Use any leftover dip to make our Artichoke and Spinach Dip Stuffed Chicken Breasts.
Our recipe for Fool-Proof Artichokes with Lemon Garlic Sauce, Yogurt Herb Sauce, and Butter Chive Sauce is a delicious way to kick off fresh artichoke season. Good luck choosing a favorite dipping sauce though; no matter how many times we make this recipe we can’t pick a favorite.
This California-Inspired Stuffed Artichoke recipe is the perfect way to celebrate the arrival of spring! This recipe is loaded with lemon, garlic, butter, and wine and is hearty enough to eat like a meal, but also party-perfect when you have guests over.
It doesn’t get much more California than this Artichoke Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting from Baking the Goods made with fresh artichokes!
Artichoke and olive oil give this cake an earthy richness and decadent, custardy texture. Then a light and airy lemony cream cheese frosting crowns the cake in a stunning blooming artichoke design.
This lovely Pesto Artichoke Asparagus Pasta from Kate’s Best Recipes is as irresistible as it gets, with asparagus shaved so thin it blends right in with the spaghetti! There are bites of artichoke hearts and a punchy basil-almond pesto sauce too. It’s a recipe you’ll want to use over and over again.
Here in California, it’s always salad season – which means we have a lot of great salad recipes we know you’ll love.
This Olive and Wild Rice Salad recipe is chock-full of always-in-season staple ingredients like jarred red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and marinated artichoke hearts, as well as both green and black California Ripe Olives.
This recipe is a great back-to-school dinner idea for hectic weeknights. Our Spinach Artichoke Pasta Bake is easy to make, tastes great, and is loaded with ingredients that are available from California year-round.
This one-pot recipe from Aida of Salt & Wind is delicious any time of year! The secret to this One-Pot Lemon-Garlic Basil Artichoke Chicken recipe is to cook the lemons and garlic in olive oil before adding in the chicken, grilled and marinated artichoke hearts, and loads of basil.
Roasting is one of the easiest and most delicious ways to prepare this vegetable. These tasty thistles get a bad rap for being intimidating to cook, but we promise our oven-roasted method is easy. Plus, our Herbaceous Roasted Artichoke recipe requires fewer dishes and hands-on prep time than steaming or boiling methods.
Transport your taste buds to the California Central Coast with this easy recipe using canned artichoke hearts inspired by the Creamy Artichoke Soup at the world-famous Shadowbrook Restaurant in Santa Cruz, California.
This soup recipe from our friends at California Wines is rich and decadent with a luxurious mouthfeel, and it is quite possibly one of the easiest soup recipes you will ever cook at home.
Get ready for this showstopper of a recipe from Big Delicious Life! A whole head of cauliflower is stuffed with a cheesy spinach and artichoke filling, topped with crispy parmesan Panko breadcrumbs, and baked to golden brown perfection. This creative and delicious vegetable dish makes a stunning presentation at the holiday table – or any time of the year.
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