Before discovering more deeply the properties of the artichoke, the method of cultivation and the various ways in which it can be used, it is worth first dwelling on its aesthetic aspect, because it can be defined as one of the most beautiful to see among all the vegetables we usually eat.
It is the bud of a plant belonging to the family of thistles, which once reached full maturity, it is harvested and is ready to be used in the preparation of delicious dishes.
Its presence on the family’s tables, in Italy and abroad is increasing, not only for the taste, but also because its consumption is good for your health, as we will discover later on.
ARTICHOKE’S PROPERTIES AND ITS ORIGIN
The Greeks already knew the wild plant of this vegetable, because the origin of the name was linked to a legend, which tells that the nymph Cynara was seduced by Zeus, but not matching his love was transformed into a green and thorny artichoke.
In ancient times it was also considered an aphrodisiac food and it is no coincidence that it was born in the eastern Mediterranean area, where it has developed various qualities spontaneously.
But, for the artichoke to become better known and diffused in the ret of Europe, we have to wait until the modern era, when those areas developed different cultivation techniques to protect it from cold temperature, controlling the production.
HOW THE ARTICHOKE LOOKS
Delicious both to the eye and to the taste, this vegetable that most likely comes from the wild thistle, comes from a herbaceous plant and during the first year you start to see some rosettes of leaves very long and divided, from the centre of which the stem then grows along with smaller leaves.
On the top of the latter, the flowers develop with five violet-blue petals.
It is interesting to discover the various properties of the artichoke, since it has no smell, but a very bitter taste. It is useful for digestion and helps the liver to function better, but these are just some of the benefits.
WHY IT IS HEALTHY
In talking about the artichoke, it is impossible not to mention its excellent nutritional proprieties, among which:
- The presence of fibres that counteract hypercholesterolemia
- The high potassium content that keeps hypertension at bay
- The help in allowing the liver to work better
- The improvement of the digestive process.
That is why it is used in pharmacies and herbalists just to help liver functions and stimulate diuresis.
Ownership and cultivation of artichokes
In order to grow, the artichoke needs a temperate climate with no humidity, a deep soil rich in organic substances. It is a perennial plant, whose cultivation happens typically during winter or spring.
Before planting, it is important to prepare the soil thoroughly and in depth and to proceed with a background fertilisation. Having a fairly large vegetable garden, you can think of planting an artichoke and produce artichokes autonomously through one of the three known methods.
The first is that of the sowing, from February to May, the reproduction by suckers (March/April or September/October) and planting of the eggs (July and August).
There are several varieties of this vegetable, among which the best known is the Roman artichoke followed by the one of Catania and the red of Sardinia. Once we know the properties of the artichoke and its cultivation methods, we can move forward to its use in the kitchen.
ARTICHOKE IN THE KITCHEN
There are many recipes you can make with artichokes. Along with other ingredients, or alone, the taste I unique and it can enrich many Italian typical dishes.
Think of the excellent Roman artichokes, a cult for the cuisine of the capital or artichokes filled with stale bread, capers, cheese and parsley, ending with the excellent salads or succulent pasta dishes.
And let’s not forget the excellent artichoke teas, which are also very good for the cardiovascular system.
Cover Image: ilgolosario