March 16 is National Artichoke Hearts Day, a day to celebrate and chow down on these nutritious, delicious plants. Artichokes are from the Mediterranean and are one of the oldest foods in the world — the Greeks and Romans ate them in the 8th century! Today, we love eating them boiled, baked, steamed, grilled, fried, and every other which way. In America, 99.9% of the artichokes we buy are grown in California, and in fact, the artichoke is the official state vegetable! To get to heart of that matter, we love everything about this yummy vegetable.
Why We Love National Artichoke Day
A. Artichokes are versatile
Artichokes are such a good snack. They taste good no matter how you cook them, and are so fun to eat. Try frying the hearts, steaming them, or even stuffing them. In Italy, artichoke hearts in oil are traditional; in Spain, young artichokes are mixed with rice for paella; in Rome, they are fried whole; and in the Middle East, they are stuffed with ground lamb and spices.
B. Artichokes are beautiful
Artichokes are actually the flowers of the artichoke plant, which explains why they are so beautiful. Artichokes are a popular motif in fabrics, and looks just gorgeous in a bowl. Some flower shops even feature artichokes still on the stem sold as cut flowers. Grow then in your garden, and they’ll bloom with bright purple flowers.
C. Artichokes are healthy
Artichokes are one of the most antioxidant-rich vegetables and contain specific antioxidants that have been linked with boosting liver health and function and even fighting cancer. In addition to being super tasty, artichokes are so good for our bodies. They are rich in antioxidants and nutrients like vitamin C, folate, and magnesium. They are a food you can feel great about chowing down on any time of day.
How to Celebrate National Artichoke Day
1. Eat artichokes for every meal
Challenge yourself to incorporate artichokes into each meal. Have a artichoke fritatta for breakfast, a salad with marinated artichoke hearts for lunch, a stuffed artichoke for dinner, and spinach and artichoke dip for a snack!
2. Host an artichoke pot luck
Invite friends over to chow down artichokes! Have everyone bring a dish incorporating the veg, and of course, have some classics on hand. Our suggestions: artichoke dip, fried artichokes, marinated artichokes, steamed artichokes … okay, we suggest it all!
3. Enjoy Cynar cocktail
Cynar is an Italian liqueur that is made from 13 herbs and plans, but most predominate is the artichoke! In fact, the name of the liqueur comes from the Latin name for artichoke, Cynara scolymus. Cynar is an amaro and can be drunk as either an apertif, a degestif, or mixed in a cocktail. We love it over ice with soda water or in a Negroni variation, replacing the Campari. Arti-cheers!