How to Select, Store and Prepare Artichokes and Asparagus
By: Chef Mark Allison, Dole Director of Culinary Nutrition
Most people look forward to spring for the warmer weather. As a chef, I most look forward to the start of spring vegetable season! Though we are lucky enough to enjoy most vegetables year round, nothing beats the freshness of the season. Artichokes and asparagus are two of my personal favorites to prepare and cook with when I’m at home in the kitchen or developing recipes for Dole. Here are a few tips to help you chose and prepare them for you and your family.
How to Select: Choose deep green artichokes that are compact, firm globes and heavy for their size. Artichokes should give slightly to pressure and have tight leaf formation. Do not select artichokes with heavy browning or spotting or that look shriveled. During late winter or early spring, artichokes may have a slight darkening on leaf tips, which is caused by chill or frost damage. This will not affect the quality of the artichoke.
How to Store: Store unwashed artichokes in a plastic bag and refrigerate in vegetable crisper or drawer, away from fruits. It’s best to eat them within a couple of days, but they will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
How to Prepare: Wash artichokes under running water. Pull off lower leaves, cut stem to 1-inch or less and snip off tips of petals. Brush cut edges with lemon juice to prevent browning. Steaming artichokes is fast and easy: In a large pot bring water to a boil, place a steamer basket on top, and place artichokes stem-side up in basket. Cover and steam about 25 to 35 minutes.
How to Select: Select spears that are bright green, straight and firm with tightly closed tips. Select ones with only an inch or so of the tough, woody base to trim off at the bottom. Thicker spears will be more tender than the thinner ones.
How to Store: Stand asparagus upright and wrap the ends in a damp paper towel covered with a plastic bag. Place in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Asparagus can be stored up to four days.
How to Prepare: Asparagus is a tasty side dish and a great addition to many recipes. Cut or break off woody stem ends and wash spears before using. Try our Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Mustard Sauce.
Check out Dole.com for more tasty artichoke and asparagus recipes that I’m sure you and the family will love.
Published March 1, 2016