Seasonal Ingredients: Artichoke

It takes a bit of patience to prepare an artichoke, but once cooked you will be rewarded by the subtly flavoured leaves and the mouthwatering artichoke heart. Originating from the Mediterranean region, artichokes pair brilliantly with butter, lemon and parmesan. Alternatively it works great on pizzas, salads or pastas. 
When buying artichokes look out for well-coloured, undamaged, tightly-closed leaves. Fresh artichokes will be heavy for their size due to their moisture content. Smaller artichokes have more tender leaves, larger ones have bigger hearts.

Preparing a whole artichoke:

– Give it a rinse

–  Slice off the top quarter and woody stem with a knife

– Snip the pointy ends of the leaves off with scissors

–  Prepping a whole artichoke is perfect for grilling, baking, and the most common method, steaming.

Steaming:

–  Bring water to a boil with a colander ontop of the pan.

–  Place the prepared artichokes in the colander and cover.

–  Bring to a boil and steam for about 30 mins until the petals are soft enough to gently pull off.

–  Whilst the petal itself is not edible, if you pull the petal through your teeth you will be able to remove the tasty “meat” and eat it.

Artichokes can also be grilled or roasted in the oven. Cut in half length ways, remove the choke, rub with olive oil and grill on a moderate-to-low heat until the base is tender – around 30 minutes.
Alternatively, if you are in a rush and just want to throw some into your pasta or salad, open up a jar as there is some very high quality ready prepared artichoke hearts out there.
Once you have prepared your artichoke, be ready to reap the benefits as they are full of nutrients, and many studies have shown it may reduce cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, improve liver and digestive health as well as easing symptoms of IBS.