There are many games of hearts. Some are card games. Some are ritual to the older game of love. And some are dealt annually by Mother Nature. Take, for example the heart of the artichoke. Imagine if you will, how hungry the first person to eat an artichoke must have been. Clearly it was a person of great determination to have battled his way past that vegetal armor plating. Only then did he confront the choke, a botanical version of caltrops, spiked metal slivers planted in the ground to slow an advancing army. You must admit that the militant raised fist of the ripening globe artichoke has an attitude.
It is believed that the artichoke originated in North Africa, especially Egypt. It was known to the early Greeks, including Homer, who took it home and adapted it to cultivation. The Romans were the next to tout the virtues of the artichoke. They then played Giulio Appleseed with the plant throughout their empire, especially in the Mediterranean Basin where it still thrives. It was the Spanish who brought the globe to the Americas, where it has flourished. Regardless of where it is grown, that decidedly un-tasty choke is actually the unopened flower of the plant. Once a bud has opened its flower, the heart is no longer edible no matter how many spices or flavors are added nor how long it is cooked.
You can find past artichoke recipes published in these pages on the web site, including, Braised Baby Artichokes with Shallots and the classic Steamed Artichokes with Lemon and Garlic. Today we are offering a variation on that classic called Wine Steamed Artichokes with Feta and Panko. The truth is, it is hard to improve on the classic, but the basics are the same with a minor left turn for a new flavor.
CLASSIC STEAMED ARTICHOKE