Updated January 5th 2021
What Is an Artichoke?
The artichoke is a thistle plant in the genus Cynara. The globe or French artichoke is the most common variety of this green vegetable. They’re mostly grown in California, France, Italy, and Spain, and it’s a popular vegetable in European cuisines, as well as the U.S.
The artichoke is the immature flower bud of a thistle and the bud is harvested before it blossoms. The outer leaves (called “bracts”) of the bud have thorns on the tips (thornless varieties have been cultivated). The base of the leaves is edible and the innermost leaves are tender enough to eat, too. Under those, you’ll find a choke (the hairy center) on top of the heart, then the stem. The heart is the meatiest part of an artichoke, and the center part of the stem is also edible. The choke is generally not eaten, unless it’s a baby artichoke.
Artichokes Are Full Of Nutrients
Artichokes are full of important nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, and iron as well as potassium and antioxidants.
They Are High In Protein.
In addition to its wide nutrition profile, artichokes offer more protein than many other vegetables at 3.5 grams per serving. Research from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that those who consume a higher ratio of plant-based protein to animal-derived protein have a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
They Are High In Fibre.
Fibre helps move your digestion along and keeps you feeling full, but it also offers more long-term benefits like a lower risk of heart disease. A half cup of artichokes contains about seven grams of fibre, or more than a quarter of the amount recommended for women and nearly a fifth of the amount recommended for men. Americans only eat about half the amount of fibre that is recommended per day, so a serving of artichoke is certainly a step in the right direction.
They Can Strengthen Your Gut.
Artichokes are full of inulin, which is a unique form of fibre known to help prevent gastrointestinal issues like constipation, enhance the absorption of minerals like calcium, and bolsters your immune system. According to a study from the British Journal of Nutrition, inulin also works as a prebiotic, which helps your body maintain a healthy gut.
They May Boost Your Immune System.
Orange juice isn’t the only thing that’ll help keep you from contracting your co-worker’s cold. In fact, the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry ranked artichokes high up on the list of immune-boosting, antioxidant-rich foods.
They Are High In Polyphenols.
Artichokes are naturally high in polyphenols, which can repair damaged cells that impair your immune function. Polyphenols are a group of phytochemicals found largely in plant foods that foods that contribute to their colour. Research from the Journal of Cell Physiology has found that they help protect against disease.
They Can Help Treat Allergies.
Artichokes are an excellent source of folate, which is a B vitamin that researchers have found to be potentially beneficial in reducing inflammation that causes allergies and asthma.
A Soffrito is a sauce used as a base in Mediterranean cooking. Usually consisting of onion, garlic, tomatoes cooked in olive oil. The braised artichokes and soffrito is a vegetarian dish that is quick to prepare and delicious to eat. Especially if the base is cooked in Morocco Gold.
- 3 lemons, divided
- 1 gallon water
- 18 to 24 baby artichokes
- 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 rib celery, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Cut 2 lemons in half; squeeze juice into water and drop lemons in water. Peel tough outside leaves from artichokes. Cut off stem ends; trim about 1/2 inch from each top. Cut trimmed artichokes in half lengthwise; immediately place in prepared water.
- Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large nonreactive pot over medium-low heat. Stir in fennel and next 5 ingredients. Slice remaining lemon, remove seeds, and place in fennel mixture. Stir in salt and pepper. Cover and cook 15 minutes.
- Drain artichokes and add to fennel mixture. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes or until artichokes are tender. Remove bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve with a slotted spoon.