by Abigail Chipley in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, May 13, 2017
by Abigail Chipley in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, February 19, 2017
With its spiky tips and armadillo-like scales, the artichoke has been known to repel many a timid eater. If you can get past their formidable appearance, though, artichokes are a delight — mild in flavor, and even fun to eat. What’s not to like about a vegetable that can be eaten with your hands, and is a vehicle for melted butter?
Grown primarily in California, artichokes are actually unopened flowers from the thistle family. Though there are over 50 varieties, the most common is the Green Globe, an Italian type with a bright green hue. The choke — or thistle — is inedible, as are the tough outer leaves and prickly tips. The heart, which is really the base of the artichoke, is considered the tastiest part. Though they are harvested year-round, artichokes are at their peak in spring, from March through May. Read more
With its florescent lime-green hue and funky spire-shaped florets, Romanesco looks a little like broccoli from another planet. In fact, its alien appearance earned it a cameo in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” (In one scene, Rey is shown biting into an apple studded with Romanesco florets, which drew commentary from famed astrophysicist and Star Wars fact-checker, Neil deGrasse Tyson.) In reality, this cruciferous veggie, sometimes referred to as Romanesco broccoli, is more closely related to cauliflower than broccoli. It’s also a bit crunchier with a milder, slightly nutty flavor. Though Romanesco has been on the menu in Italy since the 16th century, it didn’t make its debut in the United States until the late 90s. Until recently, it was found mostly at farmer’s markets. These days, however, you might spot it at your local supermarket during the fall and winter.
Like other members of the Brassica family, including kale and cabbage, Romanesco is high in Vitamins C and K, and is a good source of dietary fiber. Romanesco is also particularly high in carotenoids and phytochemicals.
When buying Romanesco, choose heads that are bright in color. The stem should be firm, with no signs of wilting. Any attached leaves should be perky and crisp. Pick it up: it should feel dense and heavy for its size. Store it in a sealed plastic bag and refrigerate for up to a week. Read more