If one of your resolutions for this year is to learn how to bake bread, then why not step it up a notch and also learn how to make some great spreads, such as spinach artichoke dip or homemade jam? The former may seem intimidating because artichokes are kind of an odd vegetable that take some know-how to prepare. However, this shouldn’t deter you. After all, learning how to work with these veggies is just another step in becoming an all-around culinary master. Here’s a basic guide on how to conquer artichokes so you can begin using them in your kitchen today:
According to Food Republic, the most common type or artichoke is the globe artichoke, also known as the French or green artichoke. These delicious veggies originated in the Mediterranean and are part of ancient Greek cuisine. In general, artichokes are in season from about March to May, and can easily be stored in your refrigerator for a week or so. Food Republic notes that when shopping for artichokes, you want to find one that is free of blemishes and makes a distinct squeaking sound when you squeeze the leaves.
If you purchase a whole artichoke, start by thoroughly washing it under cold water. Then use a chef’s knife to cut off the stem and pull away any fibrous leaves around the base, according to Fine Cooking. Finally, trim away the points of the remaining leaves. The source points out that there are additional steps to preparing artichoke hearts, bottoms and baby artichokes. No matter how you prepare this veggie, make sure to cut up a lemon beforehand so you can rub it over the artichoke to prevent oxidation. If you plan on saving any part of the artichoke for later use, store it in a mix of water and lemon juice so it doesn’t turn gray or brown as quickly.
Ideas for using artichokes
Of course, in American fare we often find artichokes as an integral ingredient in cheesy dips served with warm bread or pita. Artichokes can also easily be incorporated in casseroles, pesto and salads. If you’re up for a bit more of a challenge, making a homemade artichoke soup might be just the ticket. Lastly, consider trying out a creamy artichoke sauce that can be served over pasta.