Your Shopping List

View Shopping List

Have No Fear…Artichokes Are Here!

If you enjoy eating with the seasons, one fantastic food about to hit the scene in March is...


fresh artichokes!



Are you thinking...artichokes are expensive, take too long to cook, and seem intimidating to eat?

We want to shed some light on this somewhat misunderstand superfood...


What are artichokes?

Artichokes are one of the oldest foods known to man, and grow on a plant…they are actually flower buds that have not yet bloomed.  When an artichoke plant blooms with its vibrant violet-blue color, it's no longer edible and becomes coarse, which is why artichokes are harvested and eaten before they reach the flowering stage.

One artichoke plant can produce more than 20 artichokes per year.  “Baby artichokes” are normal buds that typically grow lower on the stalks.

The Greek and Romans considered them to be an aphrodisiac and, until the 16th century, many countries even prohibited women from eating them!  Italy, Egypt, and Spain and the major producers, and California produces virtually 100 % of the U.S. artichokes…Castroville, CA is even called the "Artichoke Capital of the World."


Why artichokes?

Of course, you knew we would say it...they are a nutrient powerhouse!  Artichokes are loaded with fiber, antioxidants (even more antioxidant power than foods such as dark chocolate, blueberries and red wine!), and provide multiple vitamins such as K, B9 (folate) and C.  They help control cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and contain a substance called cynarin, which helps boost kidney and liver functions.  There are only 60 calories in a medium artichoke...which is why we all should be finding ways to include this nutrient all-star in our routines!


Is fresh really worth it?

Until a few years ago, we will be honest, we were intimidated by fresh artichokes.  Once we overcame this “fear factor,” it blew our minds how flavorful and delicious fresh artichokes can be, especially when grilled or roasted.

And, when you get to the “heart” of a freshly grilled artichoke (the heart is completely edible), it is AMAZING!





After grilling some fresh artichokes a few years ago, our son even said, “Why haven’t we had these sooner?!”  Fresh artichokes also provide the best nutrients vs. canned or frozen varieties.  That said, fresh artichokes do require a little time and preparation so, when convenience is needed, canned or frozen artichoke hearts are great options.

How do you pick fresh artichokes?

Artichokes are in-season and best to enjoy March through May.  When you choose fresh artichokes, look for compact, tightly closed heads with clean, green leaves.  To maximize freshness, keep fresh artichokes in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.


How do you cook fresh artichokes?

As you can see from our video, it really is easy!  Here are a few helpful tips:


  1. Cut off the stem at, or slightly below, the base.  Don’t cut too high or you will lose some of the scrumptious hearts!
  2. Trim ¼” to ½” off the top of the artichokes.
  3. Many recommend cutting off the sharp leaf tips (the top ½”)…but, we view this as optional (we typically don’t take the time to do this).
  4. Cut in half lengthwise from stem to end, and scoop out the choke (or fuzzy part and tough purple leaves) in the center.  A paring knife and metal spoon work great for this.
  5. Rinse the artichokes.  You can also rub or brush lemon juice on the artichokes to keep them from turning brown (similar to apples slices).
  6. Steam, roast or grill!  We like to steam them first, and then brush them with olive oil, salt and pepper and finish them on the grill.  Try the Grilled Artichokes with Cilantro Lime Dipping Sauce - they are absolutely delicious!  Keep in mind, it is recommended to NOT cook artichokes in aluminum pots, as it can turn your pots grey.


 How do you eat fresh artichokes?  Use this simple guide:


  1. Pull off the petals one at a time.
  2. Dip into dipping sauce if desired.
  3. Pull the leaf through your teeth, letting your teeth scrape off the soft tender flesh at the bottom of each petal.
  4. Discard the petal.
  5. The heart, at the bottom center, is entirely edible and the best part!  The artichoke heart is incredibly tender and juicy...if sharing with others, be prepared for a fight!



Canned artichokes (artichokes hearts) can be super-easy to include in recipes, but keep in mind, they can contain oil and added salt.  So, if you are wanting a lower sodium option, read those ingredient labels or choose fresh or frozen.  You can also rinse them with cool water to remove some of the excess salt.

The benefit of canned artichokes is they are already cooked and ready to go, which is why they work great when added to salads, incorporated into pastas or used as a pizza topping.  Use caution if you are using marinated artichokes in recipes, as these have been seasoned and marinated in oil and/or vinegar…keep this in mind when adding to recipes because your meal may incorporate the flavor of the marinade.



Frozen artichokes (artichoke hearts) can also be a great option in recipes.  Frozen artichokes need to be thawed first.

Once thawed, you can use a paper towel to gently squeeze out any excess moisture -- this will help avoid adding extra unwanted water to your recipe.

In our experience, frozen artichoke hearts are much more difficult to find than canned.

What can you do with frozen or canned artichoke hearts?

We have several great-tasting ideas on Eat REAL America to give you ideas what to do with canned or frozen artichokes:

Spring Vegetable Orzo Pasta Salad

Greek Salad Sandwich

Lamb Meatballs with Mint Pesto Pasta

Green Goddess Melt

Green Shakshuka

Tuscan Chicken

Spinach Artichoke Pesto Pizza

Middle Eastern Nachos

Healthified Spinach Artichoke Dip

One Pot Zucchini Pasta

Crockpot Quinoa Chicken Stew



What are YOUR favorite ways to enjoy artichokes?


Please share with us!


Leave A Comment

2 Responses to Have No Fear…Artichokes Are Here!

  1. Sorry I missed this one last week, Artichokes have been my favorite food since I was 5 years old. I love to do stuffed artichokes w/ different salads to scoop out of the center. Crab salad, Cous-Cous salad or a nice fresh bruschetta. In your video I saw you discard your stem. When I cut off the stem, take a look at it there is a circle in the center of the stem. If you cut the sides down to that inner circle you can cook that as well and it’s like getting a little bit more of the heart that is soooo delicious!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *