April Veggie Challenge: Artichokes

It’s Recipe Thursday!  I’ve become complacent in my exploration of vegetables.  There are the simple ones I like, and I tend to buy them each and every time.  Carrots, broccoli, green beans, lettuce, and tomatoes find their way into my basket regularly.  My birthday was last month, and a very dear friend sent me a $30 gift card to Whole Foods.  I decided to use that gift card to branch out into vegetables heretofore unknown to me.

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I whipped out my trusty iPhone while waiting in line and pulled up a list of vegetables in season in April.  Pretty high on the list was “Artichokes.”  Now, I’ve heard of Spinach Artichoke Dip, and I’ve even seen canned “Artichoke Hearts,” but I had no idea what an artichoke was, what it tasted like, how it was served, or even (it turns out) how you’re supposed to eat one.  Perfect!  And it starts with A, so we could have a little alliterative fun with it, too.

Off to Whole Foods I went, looking for artichokes.  When I found them, they reminded me a bit of large pinecones.  Also, the blood-sucking plant from Little Shop of Horrors, Audrey II.


I had searched the web for artichoke recipes, and I decided on a simple grilled artichoke recipe from Eating Well.  Basically, you trim the pointy bits, cut off part of the stem, boil them for 10-15 minutes in water spiked with lemon juice, allow them to cool, cut them in half, scoop out the entrails, brush them with oil, hit them with salt and pepper, and grill them for 5 minutes on each side.  So, that’s what I did.

Now, the challenging part that I didn’t anticipate was having to learn how to actually eat these things.  My first reaction was to cut it up with a knife and fork.  For the stem, that worked beautifully.  The stem was very tasty!  For the leaves, I couldn’t cut it with a knife, so I tried to pluck one off and chew it up.  Although it was very tasty, it was also very fibrous, and I had to spit it out.

Perhaps I hadn’t peeled it?  I didn’t recall reading in the directions about peeling it.  I tried eating it from the inside out.  While the first few petals on the inside were tender, they quickly grew fibrous.  To the Internet!

Interesting to say the least, and educational at best.  In the end, I served my artichoke with some baked chicken for lunch.  I wasn’t sure if it was a starchy or non-starchy vegetable, so I erred on the side of caution and didn’t eat rice with it.  I later found out that it’s a non-starchy vegetable, so I’ll have brown rice with it next time.

What an adventure!

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