What is a Globe Artichoke?

It would be hard to find a vegetable that looks as pretty as a flower.  Globe artichokes are that – pretty, but tasty and nutritious.

Globe artichoke is a thistle that has edible flower buds.  The heart of the artichoke which lies under the hairy flower is the main part of this vegetable, has the most flavor and can be prepared separately.  The head and the base of the scale-like leaves surrounding the heart of artichokes can also be eaten.

The unopened flower buds of globe artichokes look somewhat like pine cones, only their color is green instead of brown.  If left on the plant, these flower buds open up to show beautiful purple-blue flowers six inches wide.  These flowers are often dried out for use in floral arrangements.

Usually eaten whole, the leaves of artichokes can also be pulled off one by one to be nibbled.  It’s a bit of a hassle as you have to scrape the leaves which are tough.  But considering the taste, it’s worth the effort.

Large artichokes are usually served with the head intact as an entrée.  Artichokes with middle-sized heads are served with dips and young globe artichokes – which are a lot smaller and tender – can be sliced and eaten raw.  It can also be deep fried or used as marinade in salads and antipastos.

In Europe, artichokes are steamed, barbecued or sautéed.  In Italy specifically, artichokes complete the Four Seasons pizza.  They have so many varieties of artichokes there and specific recipes that would suit each variety.

Growing as high as two meters – about four to five feet tall – globe artichokes can spread out to six feet, each one producing abundantly.