Native to the Mediterranean, the artichoke is actually the edible flower bud of a thistle plant in the sunflower family. Historians believe that artichokes were cultivated by North African Moors beginning about 800 A.D., then introduced artichokes to Italy. Artichokes are one of the oldest know foods, dating to antiquity. Their peak season is March through May, and then again in the fall.
Artichokes can be a meal in itself, simply steamed, the leaves plucked then dipped in garlic-butter or any dressing. The meaty base of the globe is called the heart and is considered a culinary delicacy. Slice chilled hearts in salads or batter-fry in oil for a delicious appetizer.
It can be stored in the refrigerator up to 10 days, wrapped in a wet paper towel.
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