The artichoke is a classic thistle—a tall, spindly plant with a rough, dinosaur-skin exterior that first developed thousands of years ago in the Levant. Over the centuries, the artichoke spread throughout the Mediterranean, prized for its meaty leaves and tender heart. Our ancestors cultivated scores of artichoke varieties many of which—from the wine-colored siena to the maroon-kissed chianti—are still grown today in Italy and Spain. American farmers, however, almost exclusively grow the bulbous Italian variety called Green Globe.
Don’t be intimidated by the artichoke’s spiky exterior. These versatile vegetables are great dipped in butter or piled on chips as a dip, and there’s so much more you can do with them. Fried, added to soup, folded into pasta or risotto, artichokes are definitely worth the prep work. Our step-by-step guide on trimming and preparing an artichoke can help you get beneath those tough outer leaves into the meaty, tender flesh of the vegetable. If you need a crash course in artichokes, check out our spring produce guide. It’ll give you all the artichoke advice you need, from purchasing and storage to sourcing the best of the bunch and keeping them fresh at home. Here are our 17 favorite ways to eat artichokes.