In certain respects, the artichoke might be regarded as the vegetable equivalent of lobster: it's somewhat labor-intensive eating, but well worth the effort! The fleshy, succulent, flavorful artichoke heart, which, like the lobster's tail, is often considered the tastiest morsel, takes some time to reach, but getting to it is half the fun!
The artichoke has always been considered a delicacy, and was first popularized by Catherine d'Medici. Although it is harvested year round, the artichoke crop peaks in the spring—from March through May—and then again (though to a lesser extent) in October.
This is the perfect time of year to enjoy this quirky looking veggie, loved for its distinctive appearance and deliciously nutty flavor. As tasty as they are, artichokes are good for you too. Low in calories and sodium, they are free of fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, and contain vitamin C, folate, dietary fiber and magnesium.
Festive, delicious and nutritious, the artichoke is the quintessential springtime starter or side dish. Artichokes can be boiled, steamed or cooked in the microwave, and the edible, fleshy bases of the leaves and the prized heart of the artichoke are delicious dipped into fresh lemon juice, or healthy plain yogurt flavored up with curry powder or fresh herbs. Artichoke hearts lend delicious zing to chicken dishes, salads, pasta, pizzas and appetizers, and are also fantastic diced and mixed into an omelet with fresh mushrooms and spinach for a hearty, health breakfast. Artichokes also match well with fresh and healthy favorites like basil, goat cheese, cumin, fennel, onions, parsley, thyme and tomatoes!