Here’s what I often wonder: Who was the first person to do (fill in the blank)? Usually this is something that seems completely ridiculous to attempt--say, bunjee jump off of a bridge. Who was the first person to say they'd like to tie giant rubber bands around their ankles and leap head first off a bridge?
Another such question was raised when I was asked to write about artichokes. How hungry was the first person who looked at a field of artichokes and thought, “Yeah, I can eat that.”
The name alone threw me off for years: arti-choke as in “stop breathing because of a blockage in your throat.” But then I got a look at one and, well, those spikes on the leaves did not help.
But, you know, I’m an intrepid person. I have a sense of adventure. So I thought that I would look up artichoke and learn more. And did I!
That’s when I learned that artichokes are—are you ready for this?—a thistle. Wikipedia—oh, come on, you check things there too—says a thistle is “a flowering plant characterized by leaves and sharp spikes….” Anyone else start salivating at the idea of eating “sharp spikes?” Yeah, me too.
So, we’re back to the original query: How hungry do you have to be to look at a field of artichokes—which can grow almost 7-foot tall—and think, “I’m going to eat that thing with the spikes on its leaves.”
Our friends at Wikipedia don’t record who that fearless individual was, but they do tell us the plants were eaten by the ancient Greeks and Romans, so apparently this is not a new trend.
Therefore, in the interest of education (and because no one calls me chicken!) I decided to eat an artichoke. First, I made sure my will was up to date and then I followed these steps from Simply Recipes:
Artichokes may be eaten cold or hot, but I think they are much better hot. They are served with a dip, either melted butter or mayonnaise. A favorite dip is mayo with a bit of balsamic vinegar mixed in. I chose mayo with some cracked pepper.
From Simply Recipes
Well, all things considered, artichokes are--different. It's tough to adequately describe one if you haven't eaten one, but here are my impressions:
I'm glad I tried them, and many people are rabid for them. A giant plus is that they're fairly healthy eating, since they are high in antioxidants, have been known to help reduce cholesterol by raising good cholesterol (HDL) and lowering bad (LDL), and are high in fiber.
Will I eat them again? Let's just say I will no longer avoid them simply because I haven't tried them. But, be aware, while prep and eating are not difficult, both are pretty labor intensive for what you get. Not that that's a bad thing.
Being new to the world of artichokes, it surprised me to find so many recipes for them. Perhaps adding them into other meals, rather than eating them alone, will be a better solution for me. Here’s one from Taste of Home that I’m looking forward to trying.
2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted
1 cup mayonnaise
3 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 can (14 ounces) water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped
1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 package (6 ounces) long grain and wild rice mix
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 jar (2 ounces) diced pimientos, drained
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup seasoned stuffing cubes
Yield: 6 servings.
Everyone loves a good spinach artichoke dip. This one from Food.com with the parmesan cheese and garlic appeals to me.
2 cups parmesan cheese
1 (10 ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup cream cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
More recipes from CHEFScatalog.com: