Interesting artichokes yield diverse dishes

March 31, 2004

Here are some interesting tidbits about artichokes:

  • One of the oldest known foods, artichokes have been cultivated in the Mediterranean for thousands of years. The globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) apparently was carried to Egypt and farther eastward between 2,000 and 2,500 years ago.

  • The globe artichoke also is known as the green artichoke, French artichoke and garden artichoke.

  • Artichokes were first planted commercially in California during the 1890s by Italian immigrants near Half Moon Bay.

  • Artichokes grow best in moderate climates. They like a frost-free area with cool, foggy summers. Artichokes don't flourish in hot climates, which cause the buds to open quickly - destroying tenderness of edible parts.

  • Marilyn Monroe became the first Artichoke Queen in 1948 when local growers in Castroville, Calif., asked the starlet to take the title while she was in the area promoting her budding career.

- Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency at on the Web; Purdue University Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at on the Web.

Pesto Mayonnaise Artichoke Dip

  • 1 cup mayonnaise

  • 3 tablespoons pesto sauce, or more to taste

Mix thoroughly. Serve with prepared steamed, boiled or microwaved artichokes.

Curry Mayonnaise Artichoke Dip

  • 1 cup mayonnaise

  • 2 teaspoons curry powder

  • 2 teaspoons butter

Melt butter in a small pan. Add curry powder. Bubble gently for a minute or two over low heat to eliminate any bitterness from the curry powder. Cool and add to mayonnaise. Serve with prepared steamed, boiled or microwaved artichokes.

Baked Artichoke Casserole

  • 2 medium artichokes

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 2 medium onions, thickly sliced

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning

  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced

  • 6 ounces mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese, sliced

Bend back outer petals of each artichoke until they snap off easily near base. Edible portion of petals should remain on artichoke bottom. Continue to snap off and discard thick petals until central core of pale green petals is reached. Trim brown end of stem and cut off top 2 inches of artichokes; discard. Pare outer dark green surface layer from artichoke bottoms. Cut out center petals and fuzzy centers. Slice artichoke bottoms about 1/4-inch thick. Toss with lemon juice to prevent discoloration; set aside.

Saut onions in olive oil 5 to 8 minutes or until tender. Spoon evenly into 2-quart oven-proof baking dish. Sprinkle with Italian herb seasoning. Arrange tomato slices, artichoke slices and cheese slices on onions, overlapping slightly in center of dish. Cover dish with lid or foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

Serves 4.

- Source: California Artichoke Advisory Board

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