botanical name: Cynara cardunculus
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The artichoke is a plant with a thousand virtues
Origins and history
Its use was well known in antiquity, both in the Middle East and Europe, among the ancient Greeks (who called him "Ankinara") as among the Romans, who knew and appreciated the quality of medicines as well as the taste appetizing.
Its scientific name is Cynara scolymus and belongs to the thistle family (Asteraceae).
It has many varieties, classified according to the size, the color, the presence or absence of thorns and seasonality. The autumn varieties, the most valuable, are suitable for fresh consumption; spring ones are generally intended for the canning industry and are sold frozen or canned.
Among the thorny varieties we remember the Italian and Sardinian, among those without thorns the famous Roman. The artichoke from Paestum is an Italian product of excellence and has obtained the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) by the European Union.
Nutritional properties and benefits of Artichoke
It has a low content of calories and fat; 100 g of this vegetable make only 47 calories. It's an excellent source of fiber and helps with constipation; it reduces the levels of LDL cholesterol (the so-called "bad" cholesterol) by binding to it in the gut and helping to reduce the risk of colon cancer by preventing the absorption of toxic substances.
Cynarin, which is abundant, enhances the secretion of bile, to the whole of the liver benefit. It contains vitamins and folic acid, useful, among other things, during the pre-conception period and in the early stages of pregnancy because it helps prevent neural tube defects in newborns.
Its vitamin C intake helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and free radicals. It is rich in K and B6 vitamins and essential minerals such as copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus, as well as flavonoids antioxidant compounds. In short, it is a treasure trove of valuable substances for our body. It's highly used in the herbal field. It can be consumed as tea, decoction or tincture for purifying and detoxifying action.
Use of artichoke in cooking
This virtuous vegetable lends itself to many culinary preparations. It's suitable for those who follow a low-fat diet: eaten raw in salads or even just boiled, baked with acidulated water, it is tasty and nutritious. A little olive oil and lemon are enough to bring out the flavor.
For those who have weight problems or do not want to give up more strong flavors, the choice is endless: stuffed, fried, baked with peas or potatoes, combined with other vegetables or cheese pies... the only limit is your imagination.
An idea for dinner? Prepare stew with potatoes: it will be enough cleanse them, cut them in half and brown them in a pan with extra virgin olive oil and a clove of garlic. Later, when they have begun to soften, add the potatoes added, half cup water, salt and parsley. Twenty minutes in a casserole, a handful of pepper and the result will be amazing, light but full of flavor.
Few vegetables are revealed just as versatile and succulent. The protagonist of the first delicious, tantalizing seconds and delicious side dishes, goes well with meat, fish and combined with other vegetables. Welfare, taste and imagination in one product!
This is not a fruit, but a bud if left to grow and not caught, it becomes a flower by the color blue.
A legend passed down from Horace there narrates the origin: a beautiful nymph Cynara, lived on the island of Zinari. Zeus, on a visit from his brother Poseidon, could not help but notice her and seduce her. Waxed lyrical that he decided to make her a goddess, so she could be closer to Olympus and could linger long meetings of love.
But Cynara soon fell ill of nostalgia and he missed his mother, so he fled for a short visit to the world of mortals; enraged, Zeus took the privilege of deity and to punish her transformed into the plant we know today.
A little curiosity: the poet Pablo Neruda, who appreciated the taste of this product orchard, has dedicated an ode: "Oda a la Alcachofa".