Baby Green Artichoke
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Baby Green artichokes are roughly two inches in diameter when harvested. Their tender firm leaves form a compact floret with pistachio and lime green tones throughout. Baby Green artichokes are nearly chokeless, though they will still contain needle-like thorns on the tips of the artichoke's outer leaves. A raw Baby Green artichoke is crisp, slightly bitter, tanic and nutty. When cooked, Baby Green artichokes develop flavors of toasted nuts, dry grass and caramel. Although not as meaty as a globe, they still provide a substantial meaty consistency when cooked. Of all the baby varieties, the Green provides the most "heart", which is considered the most edible and delicious part of the plant.
Baby Green artichokes are available year-round with a peak season in the spring.
Baby Green artichokes, botanical name Cyrnara scolymus, are the young flower heads of an herbaceous perennial thistle plant and member of the Aster, Asteraceae family, also known as the Compositae family. More than one hundred-forty artichoke varieties exist but less than forty are commercially grown. Baby Green artichokes are the smaller artichokes growing on the same plant as larger artichokes. Most commonly they are found growing on globe artichoke and desert globe artichoke plants. They grow in the inner shaded part of the plant.
Artichokes are inherently high in fiber and low in calories. They are loaded with nutrients and phytochemicals known to contribute to the prevention of certain types of heart disease, cancer, and birth defects.
Baby Green artichokes may be braised, steamed, roasted, boiled, baked, marinated and hearts preserved in oil. When slow-cooked, such as roasting, braising and poaching, artichokes become tender, more flavorful and they absorb the savory flavors around them most optimally. Artichokes pair well with both fatty ingredients and high acid ingredients. Complimentary ingredients include anchovies, bacon, basil, butter, cheeses, especially goat and feta, cream, garlic, lemon, hollandaise, mushrooms, pepper, sausage, thyme, tomatoes, vinaigrettes, white wine and truffles. For the optimum quality baby artichoke, select artichokes that have a tight core. If you squeeze an artichoke and it squeaks, it is fresh.
Artichokes were first cultivated in the Mediterranean region thousands of years ago, specifically in the northern region of Africa, called Maghreb, where they are still found growing in their wild state. Baby Green artichokes are primarily cultivated in Italy, France and Belgium for farmers markets. The only other region producing commercial Baby Green artichoke crops is the central coastal region of California, where crops are grown as perennials. One plant can produce harvests for several years. Green artichokes are prolific, hardy and well adapted to growing in cool conditions. They thrive best, though in temperate coastal climates.
Recipes that include Baby Green Artichoke. One is easiest, three is harder.