Artichoke-Asparagus Faceoff

In the spring vegetable world, the two big showstoppers are both green and begin with the letter "A." For many cooks, the arrival of artichokes and asparagus mean that winter is finally a wrap and it's time to kiss those turnips goodbye.

In the produce aisles and at market, these two very different species (the 'choke's a member of the thistle family; the 'gus is a member of the lily guild) are like two beauty pageant contestants, vying for attention and accolades. They create excitement and fanfare as well as emotions that run high on both sides of the culinary fence.

It is hard to find someone who loves both vegetables equally. And if you're a member of that club, speak up! We want to hear from you. Generally, though, based on highly unscientific data, I find that nearly everyone loves asparagus yet when it comes to the artichoke, well, the issue becomes a bit thorny. Here's my take on the two, and I welcome you to weigh in on this debate in the comments area below.

At first glance, the artichoke is a real looker. But perhaps like that girl you always wanted to ask out in high school, she makes it difficult for admirers to get closer, with her weaponry of prickly thorns studded all over her torso. Courageous cooks in pursuit of the artichoke's heart must not only wear gloves but work doggedly, pulling at leaves and cutting away at her exterior, only to be faced with a bunch of fuzz. I get tired just thinking about her.

Ever since my days in a restaurant prep kitchen in Philadelphia, when I had to cut up crates of artichokes until my hands were bloody, I've been avoiding them. And every year at this time, they tempt me with their budding beauty, but I just keep walking, moving on to something well, less prickly.

If you make it past the thorns and fuzz, now you're faced with another challenge: eating the darned thing. "The Oxford Companion to Food" remarks that with the artichoke, "The eater must be equipped with front teeth and patience."

I put it in the same category as hard crabs. All that work, with little reward in return. I just don't get it. And just like diehard crab lovers, who wax eloquent about pounding a mallet over newspaper tablecloths every summer, the 'choke lovers argue that sucking on leaves dipped in lemony mayonnaise is akin to culinary nirvana.

Asparagus, on the other hand, is not only pretty, it's versatile. She's everybody's friend, and she shows up without issues.

Elegant, versatile and extremely nutritious, spears of asparagus are a beginner cook's dream come true. You can do almost anything to asparagus and it still tastes good. Whether steamed, microwaved, sautéed, roasted, grilled or pureed, the 'gus requires little cooking time or imagination but offers tasty, gorgeous and nutritious results.

If you're pregnant, asparagus is a powerhouse of the much-needed folic acid, and for everybody else, you're getting hearty quotients of potassium, vitamin C, B6, potassium and a fabulous antioxidant called glutathione. If you're dieting, those babies set you back only 4 calories per spear.

So, I ask you: Which is it - the 'choke or the 'gus -- and why? And if you're a rare bird who loves both equally, I want to hear from you too. Recipes and cooking tips welcome.

Have a great weekend -- and be careful what you say in that produce aisle...

By Kim ODonnel |  March 23, 2007; 11:29 AM ET Spring Produce
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Comments

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I agree - the artichoke is a sexy beast! Nothing matches the flavor. When they're in season, ometimes I'll make a dinner of a couple of steamed ones, dipping into lemon-olive-oil mayo or butter. I have rarely tried to dissect whole ones for recipes, though. We just don't get the tender babies that Italian recipes call for. Instead, I'll buy the frozen ones - super bargain - at Trader Joe's. Throw 'em in pasta, on pizza, even in a French potato salad I make with different colors of waxy potatoes, tarragon dressing, small green beans (TJ's, again, makes good frozen ones).

Posted by: Reine de Saba | March 23, 2007 11:48 AM

Actually I like them both. But if I had to chose, it would be the artichoke. That of course may have something to do with growing up in Europe.

Posted by: MiaEV | March 23, 2007 11:53 AM

I love them both, although asparagus are a lot easier to cook and eat and thus artichoke are the rarer treat.

Posted by: T. Carter | March 23, 2007 12:00 PM

Artichoke simplified, demystified, yummified: Chop the top quarter off the choke, snip the pointy tips, and quarter. At this point the hairy fuzz is easy to scoop out, though don't go too deep or you'll lose the good stuff. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Put under the broiler. Turn once. Ten minutes or so, nice and tender, a richer flavor than boiling and no butter or sauce needed.

Posted by: Alice | March 23, 2007 12:06 PM

I'm an artichoke fiend, probably because I'm well endowed with both front teeth and patience. Dip the leaves in mustard, mayo and horseradish, and you'll know what I mean... :)

Posted by: yum. | March 23, 2007 12:06 PM

I love them both too! Can the first poster please give us the recipe for French potato salad? It sounds amazing.

Posted by: gm | March 23, 2007 12:17 PM

I love them both and since they were both exotics in my youth, neither is a staple.

Posted by: Woodlawn MD | March 23, 2007 12:19 PM

I do like them both, but also find fresh artichokes daunting (have done them steamed whole, trimmed and quartered). You hit the nail perfectly on the head...artichokes and crabs are both far too much work for what you get :-) Sometimes I make it to the store on the right day for the baby artichokes, and I'd try those, but otherwise I'll use the jarred or frozen ones for pasta, chicken piccata and other suitable dishes.

Posted by: librarylady | March 23, 2007 12:28 PM

I'll put myself in the 50-50 camp. The crab analogy is wrong: if you don't do the crab thing correctly, you get nothing! But even the first leaf from an artichoke tastes good. And vinaigrette is so much better for dipping than butter is -- the vegetable is already rich, you need something tangy to offset it.

Posted by: John | March 23, 2007 12:46 PM

I was raised in eating stuffed artichokes. The artichokes are stuffed with a egg/cheese/breadcrumb/garlic mixture and steamed. So when you scrape with the front teeth not only are you getting the tasty artichoke but the garlicky egg stuff. This dish takes some effort to make, particularly trying to get the egg mixture in between all the leaves...but it is oh so good!

Posted by: Lisa | March 23, 2007 12:53 PM

Count me in as a lover of both. But that probably comes from being part of an old world Italian family (we love ALL vegetables!). I don't find artichokes to be all that hard. Yes, they can be prickly, but with one cut across the top (knocking off about 1/2 inch), you'll get rid of all the pinchers. Use baby artichokes, since they have lots less fuzz inside. I stuff a mixture of diced onions and parmagiano cheese into the leaves, then simmer in a few inches of water with diced potatoes and a pat of butter atop each choke. In 20 minutes, you'll have the most delicious dinner, and you'll eat like a true Italian from the countryside!

Posted by: Anthony | March 23, 2007 12:53 PM

I love them both, but more often cook asapagus. My husband had never had a whole artichoke (only hearts) so I made them a few weeks back. He loved them and is always asking for it now. I just steamed and ate patiently with three sauces... lemon butter, garlic butter and tarter.
Question if you quarter, cut out the fuzz and broil, do you then eat everything or only the part of the leaf you normally eat?

Posted by: EF8 | March 23, 2007 12:55 PM

Artichoke leaves are a social thing. Reduces kings to incisor-scraping commoners. But I forgo the leaves, dig right for the heart. In season here in California, they're cheap.

The real secret is the giant glass jar at Costco, fifty artichokes munchables perfectly preserved in oil for 6 bucks.

Now asparagus is fine, too, and the more intellectually rigorous of the two (wield it pointedly to make any conversational point).

Alas, if your point does not carry, there will be an olefactory reminder later in the W.C.

Posted by: cw | March 23, 2007 1:01 PM

I LOVE both!

And it never occurred to me that the artichoke was difficult to eat. But I like using my hands with food, and anything that requires melted butter (in favor of the gross lemony-mayo thing) is an automatic win.

Posted by: PHE | March 23, 2007 1:02 PM

While I do love the flavor of both, I will always choose the artichoke over the asparagus. I opt for vinaigrette on the side (find it fits much better than any butter or mayo-based option) -- I could eat this for dinner every night and be in heaven!
Asparagus had a wonderful flavor, but the "after effects" referred to by cw are a serious turn off.

Posted by: ak | March 23, 2007 1:09 PM

Love love love them both--I like the chokes more, but may eat asparagus more often, due to needing less time to prepare it. In fact, I will often go for weeks in the spring when I'm eating one or the other every night. And now I can't wait to pick some up and broil them the way Alice suggests. I don't mind the extra work with artichokes; I just trim and steam, and the chance to play with my food is actually a bonus.

Posted by: Sheila | March 23, 2007 1:17 PM

I'm sorry, but I totally don't get the artichoke thing. Ever since I moved to California, I've tried over and over again to enjoy them - with the lemon-mayo stuff, on pizza, in salads, etc... and I just don't like the taste. Maybe I'm biochemically missing something in my tastebuds. Now asparagus - I can't get enough of it. In fact, I had some yesterday. My favorite way to prepare the 'gus is to marinate it in champagne vinaigrette and then toss it on the grill - the tips almost become caramelized. Yum! (For a more thorough/amusing discussion of asparagus' olfactory effects, do a search on the Gene Weingarten chat transcripts.)

Posted by: Piranha | March 23, 2007 1:17 PM

I LOVE asparagus. They've been a staple the last week. They're so versatile, they look lovely, are hardly fussy and just make you feel all tingly and wonderful inside. I made this wonderful asparagus pesto the other night from Susan Voisin. It was only ok to good warm, but the leftovers cold the next day were out of this world. I recommend making it in advance and serving it as a pasta salad. You won't be disappointed. Here's the link: http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2006/06/asparagus-pesto-pasta-salad.html. Just a quick note, you can add parmagian, but it doesn't need it. It's very flavorful on its own.

As to artichokes, I like them. The marinated in a jar and frozen TJ ones make regular appearances at lunch and dinner, but I've always felt they were a little too much work fresh... Reading everyone's love odes here has inspired me to try them again. My bf wll thank me. Any dish where he gets his own bowlful of mayo is bound to be one of his favorites.

Posted by: Falls Church Jen | March 23, 2007 1:22 PM

I firmly believe that artichokes are a social food. Like fondue, where, if you're starving, it's not really the most immediately satisfying meal. But you sit around the table with a bunch of people, dunk and munch and enjoy. (This is for whole artichokes, btw... I've only ever steamed them, and then done the leaf/teeth scraping thing.) Eating them by yourself is 1) lonely and 2) not worth it.

I love asparagus and artichokes, both, but definitely see artichokes as a much more seasonal, rare thing. So, they're special :)

Posted by: Karen | March 23, 2007 1:23 PM

Artichoke leaves (if that's what they are) are fun food, while asparagus is a serious dish. I was surprised at the focus on the prom queen's leafy dress while ignoring her dear heart (preferably pickled.)

Posted by: Forone | March 23, 2007 1:24 PM

Asparagus makes your pee stanky.

Posted by: Fred | March 23, 2007 1:31 PM

Eating asparagus is like swallowing congealed bile. It is one of the three most loathsome foods on the planet (Hello olives! Hello liver!)

Artichoke is yummy though.

Posted by: No 'Gus Please, We Have Palates | March 23, 2007 1:38 PM

I, too, love both equally. My fondness for asparagus stems from a traditional meal that my family uses to welcome Spring (a little late with this comment): eirekuchen (German egg cake), a wilted leaf lettuce salad dressed with a lemon-milk dressing and steamed wild asparagus. I grew up in the county and knew where to look.

When I met my husband, an Italian, he introduced me to artichokes. Far beyond steaming and dipping, I quickly grew to appreciate their amazing, rich flavor under his tutelage.
The first Spring we were together, he made my family's traditional Spring meal but added artichoke leaves to the salad.
Artichoke and Asparagus co-existing on the same plate: My husband is moving onto Mid-East peace now.

Posted by: Not a Cook | March 23, 2007 2:01 PM

I love them both, but I think I have only cooked artichokes myself once in the last 15 years.

Trader Joe's makes a great artichoke tortellini.

Posted by: SSMD | March 23, 2007 2:04 PM

I love both, and I love them equally. I just often find artichokes to be prohibitively expensive. But when I do find nice big ones for a good price that will often end up being the only thing I need to eat for dinner. Just love them. And asparagus is the perfect vegetable "side-dish" (I say this in quotes because I often have more of the asparagus than any other dish being served). You can have it plain, with sauces, in soups and sautees - just love it too.

Great, now my mouth is watering!

Posted by: Capitol Hill | March 23, 2007 2:11 PM

I believe that there is some sort of enzymatic/genetic thing going on with artichokes. After I've eaten an artichoke water tastes sweet to me, but apparently this is not true for everyone. I love artichokes, but they might taste better to me than to the people who don't get the sweet tasting after-effect.

I love asparagus too. I wash, trim the ends, arrange on the toaster oven tray and spray with olive oil, roast about halfway, grate on parmesan cheese, finish roasting, squeeze a lemon and crack some pepper over them. Voila! Dinner!

Posted by: WDC | March 23, 2007 2:49 PM

I not only like, but LOVE them both for very different reasons. The comparison of artichokes to crabs is valid in that you have to be careful how you eat them and both can cause bodily harm. I think it may be more about the process of eating them than the flavor as both will also require plenty of napkins which is why I prefer to have my artichokes at the same time I am eating lobster. Perfect combination with all that butter and lemon. I am not a huge mayo fan.

Asparagus is delicious, raw, steamed, baked, fried, sauteed...it is a wonderful side to work with on your color and taste when preparing meals and its flavor enhances other foods quite nicely without being overbearing.

Posted by: Lance | March 23, 2007 3:07 PM

I ADORE both asparagus and artichokes. Probably my two most favorite vegetables. When my mom used to go to California every spring, she'd express mail me a box of baby artichokes. Yum! I've ordered them from Diamond Organics, too--never seen fresh ones on this coast. The fried artichokes appetizer with aioli at Gordon Biersch is unbelievably delicious, but I can also be found eating the whole ones steamed, with no condiments at all. I buy the giant vats of marinated artichoke hearts from Costco and we put them on pizza, salad, panini, and pasta. Yum! And steamed asparagus with a splash of vinagrette cannot be surpassed.

Posted by: restonmom | March 23, 2007 3:08 PM

I love 'em both, but I'll admit to a slight preference for artichoke. I especially love artichoke and fennel together.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 3:32 PM

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE ARTICHOKES!!! Don't get the asparagus thing, particularly since they make your urine smell funny...Maybe artichokes are just the thing 'cos I'm an Inland Empire gal!

Posted by: Suzy Queue | March 23, 2007 3:36 PM

I have always LOVED artichokes, but I NEVER prepare them myself. I usu. eat them in salads from a salad bar or if they are part of a dish in a restaurant. More recently, a very close friend helped me see that asparagus was delicious. A couple of weeks ago, I purchased a vegetable steamer. I have had asparagus twice this week. Earlier today, I asked the same friend if I could put artichokes in the steamer; she had never tried it. Unbeknownst to either of us, this column and discussion was on the website. Talk about kismet! I will make sure to get some artichokes this weekend and add them to my vegetable rotation.

Posted by: boondocksjunkie | March 23, 2007 4:02 PM

Artichokes, no contest. With lemon butter, good heavens, not mayonnaise. And anyone who pounds crabs with a mallet is doing that wrong, also.

Posted by: localgirl | March 23, 2007 4:06 PM

I am a fan of the 'choke. It's fun to eat, and anything that works as a delivery system for mayo is a-ok with me.

I like the white asparagus, but the green I just don't care for. SOO stringy. Blech. But the white asparagus in a nice light buttery sauce with procuitto -- heaven!

Posted by: Lara | March 23, 2007 4:07 PM

they both are wonderful..i lived in germany most of the 70s and came to appreciate how wonderful the white ones are, snapped off at the appropriate point, steamed and served with a tiny bit of butter..i have been eating artichokes since i was a child..and im in my fifties now..never wore gloves..never even seen anyone wearing gloves near them..again..steamed..with butter...you ought to go to castroville california..and stop at one of the grower s stands on the way back to sfo..buy a box full and bring them home..it s outstanding...

Posted by: w04equals666 | March 23, 2007 4:18 PM

When I was a kid, my mom always made (boiled) artichokes on my birthday and served them with butter/lemon butter and sour cream. My BF gives me funny looks when I eat the hearts straight out of the jar now...he just doesn't get the infatuation. I do love me some fresh asparagus (had it two nights this week), but nothing compares to artichokes.

Posted by: JB | March 23, 2007 4:19 PM

Seriously WHAT could compare to an artichoke? In California a few years ago I passed fields of artichokes and seriously thought about pitching a tent there. Any food that's a vehicle for butter is good, but artichokes are out of this world good.

Posted by: Elle Kasey | March 23, 2007 4:25 PM

Guess I'm in the minority but I really HATE asparagus - always have. The smell nauseates me. My parents always loved it, and would it every spring for dinner with boiled eggs and butter sauce. Yuck - I would eat a hot dog!

But artichokes are in my opinion the world's greatest vegetables and to parapharase Dr. Seuss, I will eat them in a boat, with a goat... I like them dipped in mayonaise, although melted butter is good too.

Posted by: librarianmom | March 23, 2007 4:29 PM

I've never had an artichoke. But I really like asparagus roasted with salt and pepper.

Posted by: Little Red | March 23, 2007 4:35 PM

Much like whole fish (I only do filets), I can't seem to get the hang of fresh artichokes. I love both artichokes (though not jarred very much) and asparagus but cook asparagus while only having artichokes in restaurants. Any possibility of a step-by-step how to with pictures from the food section of the Post?

Posted by: Meg | March 23, 2007 4:36 PM

You don't eat everything, but this method of cooking makes the artichoke more tender, I've found, meaning that I can get *almost* everything. Let your teeth be your guide. (It's not a pretty thing when I eat artichoke, all that trash on the plate -- but since my husband hates them, I just eat them when I'm alone anyway.)

As for asparagus, anyone know how to replicate the white asparagus as I buy in the jar?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 23, 2007 4:37 PM

I have to admit that I am in the camp that loves both. I contribute this love to growing up in a very gourmet household and our California influences picked up when stationed out there. My favorite way to eat an artichoke is steamed with drawn butter, simple and unadulterated. My favorite way to eat asparagus is also simple, marintated in balsamic vinagrette and grilled. Perfection!

Posted by: Robin | March 23, 2007 4:45 PM

I like asparagus, love artichokes. Last year I lived in Turkey, and the artichokes they have are wholly edible - boil the whole thing in a broth of water with some carrots, lemon juice, a bit of sugar, potato chunks . . . eat in its entirety. Delicious!

Posted by: Columbus, OH | March 23, 2007 4:46 PM

I love them both equally! I do tend to eat more asparagus, because it cooks up so fast, but I do have to admit that the, um, aftereffects makes me hesitate sometimes. But I love artichokes too! I especially love the baby ones, those I cut in half, cook in a big pan with wine, lemon juice and stock until tender, and then put under the broiler until crispy. A little kosher salt sprinkled over, and it's a feast! Best of all, you can eat almost all of them.

I might have artichokes for dinner tonight, actually!

Posted by: Jasmine | March 23, 2007 5:03 PM

Try the steamed artichokes dipped in butter mixed with some Worcestershire sauce, it's rich and tangy!

Posted by: SeattleChick | March 23, 2007 5:17 PM

I actually like both. As to artichokes, I have found that by using a sharp knife, and placing the artichoke sideways and slicing off the prickly top, washing, and then putting them face down at first into a large pot, where the artichokes are covered with with some red wine, Italian seasoning, basil, garlic, a dash of balsamic vinegar and boiling reduces the artichokes to a soft dish, allowing one to almost eat all the leaves whole, and if done right, even the 'fuzz' is edible and not at all choking.. Of course the heart is fantastic.

The red wine etc imbibe the artichoke with flavour that with a delicate sauce makes it fantastic.. (in my opinion.. ;) )

Posted by: artMan | March 23, 2007 6:18 PM

Recently I've lost my taste for asparagus (I'm fast turning into an old codger) and I've never been partial to artichoke leaves. And I've never been impressed by the canned and bottled artichoke hearts. But when I visited Istanbul a few years ago, I found the 'olive oil' dishes (vegetables served at room temperature, dressed with olive oil) irresistible. One day I ordered lunch at my favourite restaurant (situated on the lane by the mosque on Istiklal) he proprietor told me he had artichoke. Decided to try it. The dish turned out to be an enormous whole artichoke heart, which after cooking (dunno how) had been dressed with olive oil. It was delicious, and a perfect complement to the roast lamb which is such a dependable choice in Turkish restaurants. To finished the meal, chose a fruit compote with classic Turkish clotted cream (which is made from the cream of buffalo milk).

Ah, the pleasures of travel!

Posted by: David Lewiston | March 24, 2007 6:23 AM

I, too, am a lover of both.

If you wish to get more from your asparagus with just slightly more effort, do as Julia Child taught me in the 60s: peel it. No need to snap and throw 1/3 of the vegetable away or into the stockpot. Peeled, the entire stalk (with the exception, of course, of the very bottom, is wonderful. And no waste!

Posted by: Judi Hershel | March 24, 2007 8:04 AM

I love them both. When I found out that my boyfriend and his family used to have Sunday night meals of nothing but artichokes, melted butter and crusty bread, just like my family, I knew he was the one for me. Eleven years later and we both look forward to their arrival each march. My mom was a huge fan of both, and we ate asparagus so often,and still do (One of the few veggies my husband likes), that I consider them about equal to green beans. Delicious, but nothing special. Artichokes, on the other hand, require patience, but it all pays off when you are sitting there with greasy fingers from the leaves, waiting for the heart to soak up some of the butter. And, for those special evenings, when they are stuffed with breadcrumbs - that truly is a treat. As far as using them in recipes - that's why Trader joes was invented, I agree with the first poster!

Posted by: mdsailor | March 24, 2007 8:45 AM

Here, on my blog, upon request, is the recipe for the French potato salad I described in the first post: http://recipesatrandom.blogspot.com/2006/10/french-potato-salad.html.
The tarragon and the artichoke do give it a distinctive taste.

Posted by: Reine de Saba | March 24, 2007 3:00 PM

It has to be asparagus! Spring for me starts at a local pick-your-own farm where the asparagus and strawberries are ready at the exact same time. I make three big batches of strawberry jam every year, but the asparagus is what makes everyone happy. Grilled with lemon and garlic, sliced in a light quiche or fritatta, sauteed with herbs and shallots and tossed with pasta - there is no end to the ways we use it.

Posted by: ajinsc | March 26, 2007 10:53 AM

Wow, I have never in my life had an artichoke. Apparently they're good? I'll have to try one. It just always seemed like so much work for (what I thought was) a side veggie.

Posted by: Janet | March 26, 2007 10:56 AM

I love both, but have never cooked an artichoke myself. I keep frozen chokes in the freezer to throw in pasta or on pizza.

My favorite way to eat asparagus is grilled, with a lemon vinaigrette and salt and pepper. Served room temperature, it always reminds me of spring and summer.

Posted by: Kathryn | March 26, 2007 11:12 AM

I like them both. Asparagus can't be beat for a lovely flavor and versatility. I'll reach for asparagus before artichokes for an everyday dinner. But there is something special about an artichoke (especially when someone else cooks them). They are really tasty. With all the work, they are kinda special occasion only. I like artichoke hearts in olive oil straight from the jar. If I can hold off scarfing them down, they are also good in pasta or on pizza.

I am also one of *those* people who enjoy picking crabs, so take my comment with that in mind.

Posted by: DC Cubefarm | March 26, 2007 2:15 PM

Artichokes for me! I love 'em steamed with butter that's been melted with lemon and dijon mustard. The babies are best for frying or broiling, IMHO, but quartered grilled bigguns are also delicious, and worth the work for the different flesh texture. I'll also eat steamed ones plain, or as part of a salad. As for the long eating time, that's fine by me -- makes an artichoke a good diet food since the flavor lasts forever!

Posted by: Rita | March 26, 2007 3:37 PM

Perhaps it's because asparagus seem to be everywhere at every time, or perhaps it's because I have childhood Easter memories of artichokes, but for me it's the 'chokes, hands down. Eating them, wonderfully breaded and baked, is a slow and interesting process. Yes, it's work, but it's a calming one to be shared with loved ones. Pull one leaf off, scrape with teeth, repeat. Wonderful.

Posted by: jess | March 26, 2007 9:26 PM

Count me in as another lover of both asparagus and artichokes. I've only grown to love asparagus as an adult, but have adored artichokes since my Italian granny used to make them (stuffed with savory, cheesy breadcrumbs). Nowadays I like to roast my asparagus with a little olive all and a sprinkle of sea salt. I steam 3 or 4 chokes in salted water and eat one right away while it's hot. The rest I save as a treat for when I come home from work late, hungry and ready to devour the contents of the fridge. Just those sweet, salty leaves and the tender heart as a little gift at the end...heaven!

Posted by: Karen | March 29, 2007 3:05 PM

Asparagus is one of the only foods I don't like. It's not as bad as zucchini or summer squash - which literally give me chills down my spine - but I have just never liked the flavor of it, even when I was a kid who would eat literally anything. Artichokes, on the other hand, are delish, especially when someone else makes them for you :)

Posted by: Amanda | March 29, 2007 4:03 PM

I love both and have since I was a kid. Steam artichokes with lemon zest/juice added to the water, sometimes I use fresh herbs. Always a mild butter sauce if steaming fresh (my preference of course). I use 'chokes in pasta with pine nuts, red pepper flakes, garlic, EVOO, and grilled chicken. Asparagus I find to be great raw with veggies dips or my latest is steamed just enough, run under cold water, then toss with good vinegar, EVOO, lemon zest curls, salt & pepper and then fresh Italian parsley.

Posted by: Susan | April 12, 2007 10:54 AM

I vote for ARTICHOKES! They're almost a perfect dinner unto themselves. And EASY to prepare. Start by putting some water in a pan with a steamer and bringing it to a boil. Then, cut the stem off, cut the top off so it is flat (only take 1/4 to 1/2 inch off the top), pull off the lowest row of outside leaves (which are tough), then take a pair of kitchen scissors and cut the top 1/4 inch off all of the rest of the leaves. By now the water is probably boiling, so put them upside down in the steamer for around 35-45 mins (depending on the size). Upside down insures that the bottom and heart don't get mushy. Voila--they are done. I serve with a curried mayo for dipping.

Posted by: Sarah | April 12, 2007 11:03 AM

You're kidding, right? To make us choose between asparagus and the artichoke? You've just given Italians, agita!

Posted by: Corrine | April 12, 2007 1:03 PM

I don't know much about artichokes- but the only way to eat asparagus is roasted in a 400 degreen oven for 20-30 minutes with olive oil and a little white wine drizzled over. The asparagus gets brown and carmelizes and is sweet....yummy treat.

Posted by: gail | April 12, 2007 4:12 PM

Well 30 years ago we started our family, as the kids came each found that artichocks were fun finger food. When there is a choice artichocks win hands down but the asparagus is eaten at least once a week with fish what every day that is. Now we do cook the chocks a little different. Steam with 1tsp cinnamon & garlic powder for 45 minutes, I top the as everybody does. The for the dip 1 ea. garlic salt mayo or garlic butter. Over the years we have only found one peoson that didn't ask for more.
Hope you enjoy,

Posted by: honeydomike@yahoo.com | April 12, 2007 4:20 PM

I totally agree about the artichoke/crab comparison. I'll gladly pay someone else to prepare them for me!!! As for asparagus, though -- I have recently been pan-roasting them, a la Cook's Illustrated, and EVERYONE is raving about how delicious they are. We eat them morning, noon, and night in the spring -- What could be better???

Posted by: rebwt@aol.com | April 12, 2007 9:51 PM

I, too, like them both but find artichokes too much work for what you get. However, I live in the world capital of white asparagus - Germany - where we have asparagus festivals and sale stops on St. John the Baptist's Day on the dot. (24 June)It's taken very, very seriously here. In the past few years we've been getting green asparagus from Italy and even more recently green and white (gasp, heresy) from Greece. While the white is a bit more work - it has to be peeled - it has a lovely mild flavor. Both together make a visually attractive dinner. Asparagus, boiled potatoes, ham and hollandaise sauce - what more could you ask?

Posted by: Ann | April 13, 2007 3:58 AM

Don't cut the stem off of the artichoke - cook that too in the middle it tastes just like the heart - we never waste stems anymore - I would vote for the artichoke being the best but we like asparagus too.

Posted by: Barb | April 16, 2007 5:43 PM

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