We don't know about you, but we've got a little bit of spring (veggie) fever over here. We've already looked at the best places to get your asparagus on, but this week, artichokes are the name of the game.
The ever-versatile vegetable, which is native to the Mediterranean, has a peak season that runs from March through May. That means you have another two months to enjoy these green goddesses at their fullest.
We've rounded up five must-try dishes from Houston's finest (and we're not talking your run of the mill spinach and artichoke dip).
What: Crawfish and Shrimp Stuffed Artichoke Bottom Where: Backstreet Cafe
Backstreet Café has an entire seasonal artichoke menu that they are offering through the end of April. While the entire menu -- including dishes like a bright artichoke salad, creamy risotto, and nutty rigatoni pesto -- looks divine, we can't help but swoon over the crawfish-and-shrimp-loaded artichoke bottom. Accented with fresh lemon and crisped breadcrumbs, we'd take this seafood-stuffed wonder over every other wimpy version in town any day of the week.
What: Artichoke Fritto Where to get it: Dolce Vita Pizzeria Enoteca
Dolce Vita's baby artichokes are flash-fried, leaving them so perfectly crisp, nutty and succulent that they almost taste as if they've been battered in zeppole dough. With a light touch of salt and a bright zing from freshly squeezed lemon, you'll be dying to order another $6 small plate after you whip through the first with ease.
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What: Lemon Artichoke Soup Where: Adair Kitchen
Light and lemony, this creamy, well-balanced artichoke soup makes the perfect companion to one of Adair's sandwiches or salads. Get a cup and a half sandwich or salad for just $7.95 at lunch, or grab a filling-enough-on-its own bowl for $6.50.
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What: Insalata Ortolana Where: Tony's
This beautifully crafted dish from Tony's is like a caprese salad on steroids. Sweet and supple charred long-stemmed artichokes cradle fresh garden tomatoes, zesty and nutty pesto, and voluptuous mozzarella di bufala, making each and every forkful an affair to remember.
What: Eggs Sardou Where: Brennan's of Houston
Artichoke bottoms replace the English muffin in this Nola-inspired rift on the classic eggs Benedict. Fatty poached eggs and tender artichoke are nestled in a bed of creamed spinach before being blanketed with Brennan's classic Hollandaise sauce. The dish, available during Sunday brunch, is entirely decadent on its own, but even better when polished off with a glass of its suggested wine pairing, a California Sauvignon blanc.