The prickly cactus flowers known as artichokes are one of the food high in magnesium that everyone should be acquainted with. Though artichokes can be imposing to the novice, they are easy to handle, easier to cook and wonderful top eat. Magnesium rich foods rarely come in a more elegant package.
The artichoke is a good source of vitamin C, folate and potassium as well. With little sodium and no fat, the artichoke is a luxurious way to diet – a medium artichoke is about 25 calories.
It looks unusual because it is actually a kind of thistle, and the the artichoke (or the part we eat) is in fact the flower bud of a beautiful purple thistle flower. That said, as beautiful as it is when it flowers, a flowering artichoke is one that we can no longer eat!
First things first, when you buy artichokes look for a nice clean and green color, and check to see that the petals (leaves) allow you to wiggle them a bit. I prefer larger sizes, but some recipes may call for smaller sizes or even baby artichokes. Try to avoid those with many brown spots, which are caused by frost or simply by not being very fresh.
When you get the artichoke home, use a knife to cut the stem – the same as you would do for fresh cut flowers. You want to expose the still living part of the stem and stand the artichoke in a dish with a bit of water in it. Be sure to cut well enough that the artichoke can stand on its own. This will allow the artichoke to soak up a bit more water and plump out a bit – something that can make a great difference in taste when you are planning to boil them.
Now, when you are ready, the simplest and most elegant way to enjoy an artichoke is to boil it in salted water until tender. Once it’s tender, remove from the water and give it a chance to cool down. During the summer, you may wish to chill it.
To eat the artichoke, simply use your fingers to pull off one petal at a time, put the end that was attached to the stem in your mouth, and use your teeth to pull off the soft pulp at the moist end of the petal. The rest of the petal can be tossed in a dish set to the side. Continue eating this way, and you’ll eventually reach the tender heart. This can be eaten by hand as well, but may be a bit messier. The whole experience of eating this way is one of luxury. Now who says getting magnesium rich foods in your diet can’t be fun?
Speaking of diets…. if you’re not on one, you might like to prepare a dip into which you can dip the petals before eating each one. The most popular is (surprise) mayonnaise, or mayonnaise mixed with mustard. if you are counting calories, then you may want to experiment with a little fresh lemon juice, or vinegar. Or better yet just keep the mayo to a minimum on each bite.
As you get closer to the heart, the magnesium in the artichoke increases, so be sure to eat it to the end.
Of course, though the above is the most popular way to enjoy an artichoke, it’s far from the only way. Keep reading to get a few ideas and great recipes so you can enjoy magnesium rich artichokes without getting bored. (Is getting bored with artichokes even possible??)
Visit our artichoke recipe page, or try one of the recipes below…
Artichoke and Lima Bean Garlic Saute
Salt and pepper to taste
Lima beans are a famously magnesium rich food. Combined with the artichokes you can have a gourmet side dish that is high in magnesium and memorable. This very simple dish can be made by slowly cooking the artichokes and garlic in a pan with a bit of olive oil. As the garlic turns brown, finally add the cooked lima beans and the chopped parsley. Season as needed.
Deep Fried Artichokes
This delectable treat comes from the California Artichoke Advisory Board . Do pay them a visit for more artichoke info, and other recipes including some great Italian dishes.
From the California Artichoke Advisory Board website.
1 cup fish batter mix
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup water
¼ cup beer
2 pounds baby artichokes, prepared as directed and quartered*
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
solid all vegetable shortening for frying, about 1 inch deep
Heat shortening to 350 degrees F. Mix together the batter mix, baking powder, water and beer. Dip artichokes in batter mix, then roll in bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese. Fry 2 or 3 minutes or until light golden brown.
*For preparation of baby artichokes, trim to hearts, quarter, and place in water with lemon juice to prevent browning. Drain well before dipping in batter.