Artichokes and pineapples both have something in common—they are difficult to eat because of the work involved to reach the “good parts.” But in both cases, I believe the work is warranted, especially for the artichoke, which is actually a thistle. According to Jonny Bowden’s 150 HEALTHIEST FOODS ON EARTH, the artichoke is a liver cleanser because it is a wonderful source of silymarin, which is the active ingredient in milk thistle that helps the liver do its job. Artichokes are also helpful in digestion, used to treat high cholesterol and triglycerides, and are a good source of nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, eye-friendly carotenoids, and contain substantial fiber. So loving artichokes is a good thing!!
Recently, baby artichokes have become a favorite with me, because I can eat almost the entire veggie. On the Internet I found this information about baby artichokes:
“Baby artichokes are not a separate variety but merely smaller versions of larger artichokes. Their size comes from their location on the artichoke plant. They are picked from the lower parts of the artichoke plant where the plant fronds protect them from sun, in effect stunting their growth.”
The directions for preparing these babies are usually multi-stepped, but I found that if I cut them in half, place them face down in the oven in a cooking pan with 1 or 2 inches of water, I could bake them fairly quickly with no fuss. Then I pull off the outer, inedible leaves and dip the edible artichoke leaves in a flavored olive oil and eat almost the whole leaf. When I get to the choke, I cut it out with a small paring knife, and enjoy the delicious tender offering of these babies.
You may want to check out this interesting article on baby artichokes from the Ocean Mist website at: http://www.oceanmist.com/products/artichokes/artichokebaby.aspx. Here you can find several ways to prepare baby artichokes from steaming to broiling. So feel free to try another way from what I describe below.
Utensils: Cutting board & knife, baking pan, dish for dip, plate for serving
Prep. Time: 7-10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes or more
5-6 baby artichokes, cut in half lengthwise
2 garlic cloves, peeled and placed in oven with artichokes
1/2 cup olive oil or oil of choice
salt, pepper, cayenne (pinch)
21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe (r herbs of your choice)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place halved baby artichokes face down on a baking pan with about one inch of water. Put garlic cloves in a separate pan to bake. While artichokes are baking, put ingredients for dipping sauce together except for garlic.
2. Bake until outer leaf can easily be pulled off or choke is soft. (Test after 20 minutes.)
3. Remove garlic. Cut or leave as is and add to dipping sauce dish. Set aside.
3. Place oven on broil for only 30-60 seconds.
4. Remove and cool artichokes. Pull off outer leaves that are inedible, maybe two layers.
5. When you get to the edible leaves, start dipping into garlic/oil dip and eat as much of the leaf as you feel comfortable eating. (I can eat almost the entire leaf.)
6. Remove choke with a paring knife and dip in garlic & oil dipping sauce. Enjoy!