Artichokes are one of the best vegetables you can eat. They are rather sweet and they also make other foods and drinks, as well as water, seem sweet. This is due to the cynarin found in the artichoke. Artichokes have a high nutritional value, they are diuretic, reduce cholesterol levels and among other things, they strengthen liver function and are good for your waistline. A medium head has only about 60 calories.
Artichokes are now in season, and a very easy way to enjoy them is by either boiling or steaming them.
Get a few artichokes, wash them thoroughly, partially opening up the leaves, so that you remove any dirt or bugs. If there are little thorns at the tip of each leaf, cut them off with a pair of scissors. Cut off the stem leaving about one inch, remove a few of the first, very tough outer leaves, and place the artichokes in a pot with lightly salted water. Boil them until they are tender, about half an hour. Cooking time depends on the size of the heads. Check by pulling a leaf downwards, towards the stem. If it comes off easily, then the artichokes are done. Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate or platter.
In the meantime, prepare a lemon-olive oil sauce. Put half a cup of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon (or as much as you like) and a little salt in a small bowl. Beat it with a fork until it starts to thicken. It doesn’t take more than 2 – 3 minutes.
Serve the artichokes with this lemon-olive oil sauce (which is much healthier), or melted butter or mayonnaise.
To eat them, pull off one leaf at a time and dip the fleshy tip in the sauce. Then bite gently on the leaf and pull it out of your mouth. This way you will scrape off the sweet meaty part at the end of the leaf with your teeth. It may sound funny if you have never done it, but do try it. They are delicious and they are fun to eat. And much better than chips while watching TV. When you have finished with the leaves you will come to the meaty part – the heart of the artichoke. You will see that it is covered by‘fuzz’. The larger the artichoke, the harder the fuzz, and you will have to scrape it off with a spoon or a knife. You can even pull it off with your fingers. And finally, you can enjoy the sweetness of the heart of the artichoke!