Did you know that artichokes are actually a variety of the thistle family? This beautiful, but intimidating, olive green and purple hued 'vegetable' is especially prized in Spain, for its health giving properties as well as its looks. Artichokes are full of fibre, with one artichoke providing a quarter of your daily fibre needs, and 4g of protein per unit, unusual for a vegetable. They're full of vitamins and contain cynarine, which is good for your liver and soothing upset stomachs. No wonder they are a favourite vegetable in Spain! They are a staple of Mediterranean cuisine in the spring, when they are in season.
What do they taste like? The edible part of the artichoke is the bud of the flower before it blooms, and the flavour of this bud is herbaceous and sweet. The petals have a crunchier texture, and the heart is the most tender part. The taste is similar to asparagus, brussel sprouts and celeriac, with a mild nutty flavour. Once you've discovered the delicious taste of artichoke there is no going back!
The best way to cook them is to trim the outer leaves and slice off the top, then boil them for about 45 minutes. If you want a sociable snack, share the petals for dipping in aioli. The flesh is scooped out of the petal with the tongue, and then the delicious 'choke' in the heart of the artichoke can be spooned out and enjoyed.
Sounds complicated? A quick Google search will turn up loads of ways to prepare and eat artichokes, but for an easy introduction we recommend trying Botularium's crema di alcachofa. This mild, sweet and slightly nutty flavoured artichoke cream is a perfect dip or spread, or can be used as a sauce to accompany meat and fish, it could be stirred into pasta, or you could even posh up a sandwich with it. Head to our Aperitif Drinks and Nibbles collection and grab yourself a jar now!