Artichokes are a European staple with more than 40 varieties in existence. The delicate and delicious vegetable is actually an unopened flower bud from a thistle-like plant called Cynara scolymus.
The vegetable flowers are picked and eaten before they turn into a “real” flower and consists of three parts. The overlapping outer leaves are tough and inedible at the tip, but fleshy and tender at the base, the inedible choke, or thistle, which is enclosed within a light-colored cone of immature leaves, and the round, firm-fleshed base called the “heart”.
Antioxidant Score (ORAC)=6,552
Selecting and Storing Artichokes
Globe artichokes are available year-round, with the peak season from March through May. Buy deep green, heavy-for-their-size artichokes with a tight leaf formation. The leaves should "squeak" when pressed together. Heavy browning on an artichoke usually indicates it's beyond its prime. Store unwashed artichokes in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 4 days; wash just before cooking. Artichoke hearts are available frozen and canned; artichoke bottoms are available canned.