Weekend Fun: Castroville Artichoke Festival
Clockwise from top left: grilled artichoke, french fried artichokes, artichoke burrito, and artichoke pasta.
Over the weekend I attended the Artichoke Festival in Castroville, CA, the artichoke capital of the world. The festival celebrates both the bounty and deliciousness of artichokes. Who knew you could do so many things with them? Attending the festival was a great way to find some cooking inspiration, in addition to eating them!
In addition to the delicacies photographed above, I also tried an artichoke cupcake:
See the big pieces of artichoke in there? It’s basically a spice cake, like a carrot cake, with cream cheese frosting, except instead of carrots, there are artichokes. I found it to be pretty sweet and moist. Not pictured but present at the festival were artichoke bread, artichoke pizza, artichoke tacos, and artichoke tamales.
Since they are in season right now, head for your nearest farmer’s market (or greenmarket) and grab a bunch of them and get creative with them using any of the ideas above! A homemade burrito filled with sauteed artichokes and maybe some black beans, mushrooms and sliced bell peppers would make a quick and healthy weeknight supper. Or toss them in a pasta, bake them in a loaf of bread, or a cake. The possibilities are endless with this versatile vegetable. Even the Italians make a liqueur from artichokes called Cynar. It’s pretty bitter and is an acquired taste, so be warned on that one.
(Images: Kathryn Hill)