Artichokes are a somewhat controversial vegetable that some people love. They are a very healthy vegetable with a distinct taste, odor, and shape.
However many people simply don’t like their overall taste and texture and find them hard to tolerate.
All that aside, artichokes are a diverse vegetable that can suit many different recipes and cooking situations. They are dense with nutrition and provide a healthy alternative for other veggies, such as broccoli and asparagus.
In this article, we’ll sample artichoke’s taste, discuss how you can use them in various meals, give you an idea of their texture, and provide recipes for cooking with them.
In this way, you can use this somewhat underrated vegetable in your daily life.
What Are Artichokes?
Artichokes are a dense green vegetable with a unique look that includes several peelable layers. Many different cultures use artichokes in their cuisine, particularly throughout the Mediterranean region.
In some areas, they serve as a useful alternative to hard-to-find broccoli or other similar veggies.
Artichokes may be eaten raw after being cleaned and carefully peeled. However, they are usually cooked first to help soften their rather dense structure.
Some people may even blend them into a dip or a topping that they can use for chips, raw vegetables, and much more.
What Is The Taste Of Artichokes?
Artichokes have a fairly mild taste that is alternately described as bitter, sweet, nutty, and even spicy. This surprising blend of suggestions indicates that people react to artichokes in varying ways.
Some people may find the bitter flavor a bit too overpowering while others find it a little spicy.
These varying flavor impressions likely occur because people eat artichokes at varying times in their ripeness.
Interestingly, artichokes change their flavor as they ripe, meaning that they can be rather sweet early in their life and more bitter as they age.
Therefore, it is important to eat them while they are still rather fresh. At their best, artichokes have an earthy flavor with some slight herbal undertones.
They also have a nutty flavor that makes them useful for various meals, including in unique stews and other veggie-rich dishes.
What Do Artichokes Look Like?
Artichokes have a very distinct look that makes them hard to miss. A picked artichoke has a circular shape that includes a cut-off point at the bottom where it was picked from the plant.
They have various peeled layers that create a shell-like appearance over the artichoke.
In this way, artichokes look something like turtles or even armadillos, making them a very distinct vegetable.
Fresh artichokes are usually a mid-shade green with some streaks of brown throughout their leaves. This gives them an appealing look that works well in many dishes.
What Texture Do Artichokes Have?
Artichokes have a dense texture created by their layered and strong overall structure. When raw, they are rather tough and require several bites to properly chew and digest.
Cooked artichokes are softer and more palpable for the mouth but are still quite dense to chew.
This density makes them similar to broccoli or Brussels sprouts. However, artichokes aren’t quite as sharp in flavor as Brussels sprouts, which can make them a bit easier for some people to enjoy.
Artichokes also have a lighter overall structure that is less difficult to chew.
Where Do Artichokes Come From?
Artichokes originate from the Mediterranean region and were heavily eaten by Ancient Greeks, Roman, and Egyptians. They were heavily appreciated in these areas and were even part of Greek mythology.
The Ancient Greeks had an entire origin myth devoted to this popular vegetable.
Artichokes require a fairly warm and humid growing environment, meaning that most still come from the Mediterranean area.
However, California produces literally every American artichoke due to its unique growing environment. American artichokes are the same as their sister veggies overseas.
Are Artichokes Healthy? Or Dangers Of Eating Artichokes?
Artichokes are very healthy and are considered one of the best fiber sources in the vegetable kingdom. They possess about one-third of your daily fiber needs in a single medium artichoke.
They are also very low in fat, rich in carbohydrates, high in protein, and dense in vitamins and minerals.
Artichokes pose no health dangers because of their low fat and low cholesterol. However, some people may be allergic to these vegetables.
If you have never tried one before and have several food allergies, get an allergen test from your primary caregiver to avoid dangerous reactions.
How Do You Eat Artichokes?
You can eat artichokes raw, though they are often too dense for most people to eat this way. Instead, it is usually best to steam, grill, or boil them to soften them up a little.
Steaming is the healthiest option because it preserves the most nutrients, while grilling and boiling will strip this vegetable of much of its nutritional value.
How Can I Store Artichokes?
Store fresh artichokes in a refrigerator in a bowl of fresh water to keep them hydrated and fresh. You can typically store them in this way for a week or more, depending on their freshness when purchased.
Artichokes may start going bad in the refrigerator before a week has passed, though they may be edible even when losing a bit of freshness.
Can You Freeze Artichokes?
While you can freeze artichokes, they eventually start losing nutrients due to the freezing process. Try to wrap them in a freezer-safe container to avoid freezer burn and other problems.
Typically, it is better to either use artichokes before their expiration date or throw them away, rather than freezing, as they don’t keep as well as other vegetables and may get heavily freezer burned.
How To Tell If Artichokes Are Bad?
You can tell if artichokes are going bad if their smell, texture, or flavor changes. For example, mushy artichokes or those with a heavy brown color are bad and should be thrown away.
You should also throw away artichokes with a bad smell or taste to avoid food poisoning.
Artichokes may also grow mold even when stored in a refrigerator, though they typically start becoming mushy before growing mold. If you see any mold on your artichokes, throw them away to keep your family safe.
How Can I Pick Artichokes In A Grocery Store?
Focus on buying fresh artichokes that have a firm texture and a light green overall color. As artichokes ripen, they start developing brown streaks through their different peels.
A little brown isn’t a problem but can become an issue once it takes over the artichoke.
Pick up each artichoke you want to buy and feel their firmness beneath your fingers. If they resist pressure, they are fresh and probably safe to buy. When you notice any give or mushiness beneath your finger, buy another artichoke instead.
Can You Grow Artichokes?
Artichokes are fairly hard to grow because they require warm growing temperatures to develop. If you live in an area with minimal winter temperatures, such as California, you may easily grow artichokes in your yard’s garden.
Some people may grow artichokes indoors where they can more easily control the temperature. You will also need UV lamps to provide your artichokes with a steady supply of simulated sun.
In this way, you can grow healthy and tasty artichokes that your family may enjoy.
Artichokes Vs. Broccoli
Artichokes and broccoli have a similar overall nutritional value and taste. However, artichokes taste a bit different and may be hard for some people to enjoy.
Their alternately bitter, sweet, and nutty flavor is more unpredictable than broccoli, making them harder to use.
Broccoli is also richer in protein, though artichokes have plenty of this nutrient. For most people, it comes down to preference.
Broccoli is a bit milder than artichokes and a little more palpable for most people, making it an easier option for their recipes.
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How Do You Cook Artichokes?
You may boil, steam, or pan fry artichokes depending on your preference. Some people may bake them, as well, though other methods are quicker. Follow the steps below for your preferred cooking method to get the results that you want.
- Place your artichokes in a large pot filled with water
- Turn the heat up until the water starts to boil in the pot
- Cook the artichokes until they become tender and easy to chew
- Add butter, salt, or any other ingredients to your artichokes
- Put your artichokes in a steam cooker
- Fill the steam cooker with water and turn on its heat source
- Set the steamer for 10-15 minutes and wait for it to finish
- Check the artichokes to see if they’re tender
- Flavor with salt, butter, or add to another meal
- Place a small portion of oil along the bottom of your pan
- Slice your artichoke into easy-to-fry bits
- Put them on the oil and turn on the heat to high
- Decrease the temperature as the oil starts to spark
- Let the artichokes pan fry on one side before flipping
- Flavor the finished artichokes however you like
Nutritional Value Chart
|Nutrient||Per medium artichoke|
Artichokes Recipes: Quick Table
|Spinach And Artichoke Dip||1711||35 minutes|
|Artichoke Pasta||695||20 minutes|
|Air Fried Artichokes||66||20 minutes|
Artichokes taste great in many different meals, meaning that you can integrate them into just about any dish that you want! For example, artichokes taste great when mixed with spinach in a delicious chip or vegetable dip recipe.
The following recipes are among the most popular and delicious that we could find and can help you turn your artichokes into a delicious meal.
This recipe uses frozen spinach, artichoke hearts, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, mayo, and sour cream to create a delicious dip.
Combine all of these ingredients into a large bowl and warm up to serve with pita chips or other types of delicious foods.
This recipe is a great choice for people who want a healthier alternative to a traditional chip dip or who love artichokes and spinach.
Note that this is a “healthier” dish and not necessarily healthy, due to its heavy concentration of various cheeses and creams that may be high in fat.
Total Preparation Time: 35 minutes
This pasta recipe uses artichokes, garlic gloves, lemon, capers, olive oil, and spaghetti noodles to create a rich dish. Spaghettini noodles are nice because they’re smaller and a bit lighter than spaghetti.
The various flavors produce a light dish that works well as an alternative for things like fettuccine.
Add salt and pepper to taste and mix with your favorite cheeses or sauces. An alfredo sauce goes very well with this dish, as do various Parmesan cheese sauces.
Choose whatever suits your taste and serve with garlic bread to create a delicious meal that your family will enjoy.
Total Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Air frying has become a popular alternative for pan frying and is a useful way to cook artichoke hearts. It produces a texture similar to pan frying but without the grease.
That makes this method a great option for kids or those who simply don’t like boiling or steaming artichokes.
Place drained artichokes in a small bowl and coat with mayonnaise, salt, and pepper before adding a rich flour-based coating.
Put the artichokes in the air fryer at the highest temperature for 10-15 minutes and flavor with Parmesan cheese and parsley. Serve as a side dish or with pasta and other ingredients.
Total Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Will Fresh Artichokes Last?
Your artichokes may last 3-7 days in your refrigerator but may also last longer, depending on a few factors.
For example, buying younger artichokes will cause them to ripen a little in your fridge, giving you a bit more life out of them than if you bought riper types.
Cooked artichokes can last a bit longer in the refrigerator, including up to two weeks in some situations. That lifespan depends on if you prepared them with other ingredients.
For example, some vegetables may go bad more quickly than others, meaning you need to throw out the artichokes in the same meal.
Are Artichoke Allergies Common?
Any food can trigger an allergic reaction but artichoke allergies are not common. Vegetables are generally among the rarest allergic triggers, though that again varies between people.
Some people may suffer allergic reactions when eating artichokes, even new allergies that occur out of nowhere.
As a result, it is important to work with your primary care physician if you’ve never eaten artichokes before. They can provide an allergen test that can gauge whether you’re allergic to these vegetables.
If you are allergic to them, it is best to avoid them even if you’re merely sensitive and not heavily allergic.
What Helps Improve Artichokes Taste?
Not everybody finds artichokes tasty and some may struggle with even the sweetest and freshest artichokes available in their area.
If you have a hard time with artichokes taste, there are a few steps you can take to improve them. For example, you can:
- Sautee them in butter or other items to add a sweetness
- Flavor them with salt and pepper to give them a slightly better taste
- Cook them longer to make them softer and more tender to the bite
- Sprinkle herbs and spices like parsley and thyme on top of cooked artichokes-taste
- Mix with milder vegetables to help balance their overall taste and potency a bit more effectively
The nice thing about some of these methods is that they improve taste without affecting nutrients. For example, parsley and thyme add few calories but make artichokes taste better.
Butter will affect the overall fat level, though, so make sure you are careful with how much you add.
Which Cooking Method Should I Use?
Frying techniques may work well for people who have a harder time enjoying vegetables because they add a bit of flavor to the artichoke.
This method does ruin some of its overall nutritional value, though. Steaming preserves the most nutrients, while boiling provides the tenderest option.
Baking is a good choice if you plan on cooking multiple vegetables for a roast or a similar meal.
For example, you can mix baked artichokes, broccoli, and cauliflower with chicken to produce a rather dense and delicious meal. As with all meals, your taste and needs should dictate cooking methods.
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