My Love for Three Artichokes

artichoke imperial star 2artichoke imperial star 4Imperial Star Artichoke

artichoke romanesco 3 artichoke romanesco 2 artichoke romanesco 1Carciofo Romanesco or purple Romanesco Artichokes

artichoke green globe 2artichoke green globe 3

Green Globe Artichokes

For the past several weeks I’ve been fussing over my artichoke plants – battling aphids, crushing slugs and removing snails with my bare hands. I’ll never take another artichoke for granted! My husband and I love artichokes. I grew up with them (I’m one quarter Maltese) and my husband was a quick convert. When we moved to California, growing our own was high on my list of things to try – and I’m so glad I did! Even in spite of the snails, slugs and aphids.

I’ve been looking forward to harvesting these beauties for quite some time and my sister’s impending visit made it that much more special – she loves artichokes as much as I do. On Monday, we braved the heat, as well as the slugs and snails, and harvested our first crop. Since I had grown three varieties, it was the perfect opportunity for a taste test. With that in mind, we decided to steam all three with a little lemon, garlic, French thyme and olive oil.

My husband, sister and I all agreed that although all three varieties were delicious, the Green Globe and Romanesco artichokes were our favorites. The Green Globe had the meatiest leaves for scraping with one’s teeth, but more importantly, it had the most tender, tastiest heart. The Green Globe heart was like butter – absolutely delicious! And it had the easiest heart to clean – making it that much easier to enjoy. The purple Romanesco artichoke was by far the most beautiful. The only downside was that the leaves weren’t very fleshy. Even if I had hated the flavor, I’d continue growing this artichoke just for the beautiful color.

The Imperial Star artichoke was very good, but like the Romanesco, it too had very little flesh on it’s leaves. This artichoke heart was the largest of the three we tasted and probably needed to be steamed a tad bit longer. Regardless, the heart and leaves tasted a bit herbal – almost grass-like. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t dislike it either. I plan on steaming another batch and tasting this one again before I pass too harsh a judgement.

In addition to harvesting and steaming full size artichokes, we also harvested some baby artichokes. Compared to mature artichokes, the babies are much easier to clean – we only removed a few outer leaves and trimmed the top a little bit. Because the prickly seed threads aren’t developed, there’s no “choke” to remove, making the entire head edible. They were wonderful.

If space in your garden is a constraint, it might be helpful to know that our Imperial Star and Green Globe artichokes grew to about 4 feet tall and wide, while the Romanesco grew to three feet tall and wide.

And for those of you who didn’t grow up eating artichokes, here is a link to a helpful video by Mark Bittman, showing three ways to clean an artichokeEnjoy! 

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