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Artichokes, a member of the thistle family, are at their peak in the spring.  California produces almost all commercially grown artichokes in the United States with 90% of those grown on the Central Coast.  Castroville is known as “The Artichoke Center of the World” and the annual artichoke festival is held May 19th and 20th.

Prepare the artichoke by trimming a little of the top and the stem off the bottom.  Pull off any older outer leaves. Using kitchen scissors trim the pointy ends off the leaves. The fastest way to cook the artichoke is to fill a glass measuring cup with a little water. Place the artichoke in the cup and cover with plastic wrap. Using a knife make a few holes in the plastic wrap and microwave for a minimum of 3 minutes for medium artichokes up to 5 or 6 minutes for large artichokes.  Check if it is tender by pulling off a leaf and biting into it.    I like dipping the artichoke leaves into a mixture of mayonnaise and yuzu vinegar.

If you want to impress your guests try serving stuffed artichokes.