What is it?
The Globe Artichoke (Cynara Scolymus) is a variety of thistle and is part of the Asteraceae family of flowering plants. What we recognise as the majestic artichoke is in fact an unopened flower bud, making it both an exciting food and the perfect option for a bold romantic gesture! If in doubt, edibles are best.
With Mediterranean origins, the Globe Artichoke is most readily available in summer time and is known for being nutrient rich. High in vitamin C, antioxidants and dietary fiber, this plant is well known for alleviating digestive disorders and generally being a real goodie when it comes to health benefits.
What to do with it?
This is not one for a fast food fix. This plant is something special to enjoy preparing with patience, which will be rewarded with a comfortingly mild and sweet flavour. The coarser outside leaves should be stripped, and the tips of the inner, more supple leaves should be trimmed by about 5mm. Cut the stem to about 10mm long, or just enough to dispose of the woodier end, which while edible is fairly bitter and tough in comparison to the rest of the plant. From there, anything goes!
They are delicious if sectioned, grilled and preserved in olive oil and lemon. While it was once believed that they possessed aphrodisiac properties, this can be a messy option to consume and are probably best enjoyed in a dark room on your own. That said, the artichoke can make a stunning centerpiece starter if you want to show off some skill. It can be steamed whole and served alongside a vinaigrette or hollandaise for dipping, or seasoned and baked to be stuffed with garlic and ricotta. It can be made into soup, mash, or used as a garnish for almost anything.
This plant also has the ability to be made into tea, liquor, and medicine; is there anything a Globe Artichoke can’t do?!
Fun Fact: The Globe Artichoke was introduced to the UK by the Dutch in the 1500s, and first grew in the garden of King Henry VIII at Newhall. In true Henry style, he ordered the artichoke heads removed for his convenience, and reaped the benefits…