I *heart* artichokes! The tender morsels with a flavor and tender texture all their own are a delight.
Last night as I rummaged in the fridge to find something to make, I spied the two lovely fresh artichokes I had bought a couple days ago for an intended recipe--- that never got made, due to my packing frenzy.
Well, I simply could not let them waste away, unloved and lonely in the vegetable drawer!
Best way (IMHO) to fix artichokes is the simplest.
Steam them and serve with lemon butter.
Get all the tender morsels from the leaves, then go for the heart.
Directions and photos showing how to cook and devour an artichoke properly are here .
If you want to get fancy, the Artichoke Board has oodles of recipes here .
A lot of people by-pass buying fresh artichokes in favor of buying ones in jars, usually in olive oil and using those. That's fine, too, as you can go from simple (serving them as is on an antipasto plate) to elaborate (adding them to many Italian dishes).
When I buy them in jars, I drain them, saute them with fresh mushrooms and garlic in a bit of butter, then toss them with cooked chicken and a light alfredo sauce to serve over angel hair pasta.
If you are a risotto loving person, adding diced artichoke hearts to a risotto will win you raves at the dinner table.
Artichokes are thistles, more or less.
Easier to grow than you might suspect!
They are an organic medium loving plant, so lots of organic matter, compost tea and manure dressings help them produce their lucious little globes.
The plants get quite large...I have seen some practically take over a garden!
You can grow from seed or from root stock---if you can find it. A lot of nurseries do not carry it, so you may have to hunt down and artichoke growing friend for that.
They can be grown in containers, but the container should be quite large with ample room for their roots. They like mild winters and mild summers.
Good article on growing artichokes here.