Native to the Mediterranean, artichoke is a perennial in Zones 10-11 and sometimes overwinters in Zones 8-9. Elsewhere, it’s an annual and needs a long growing season to pump out those tasty buds. Slugs go after young plants, and aphids and earwigs attack at the later growing stages. Consistent watering is key to plump, tasty buds.
Often called sunchokes, these knobby looking tubers have the crisp texture of water chestnuts and offer a nutty flavor that is a wonderful alternative to potatoes. You can purchase small tubers from specialty stores and plant them in early spring in well-drained soil with a PH of about 7.0. They are usually ready for harvest after the first frost in late fall. Scrub and roast them like potatoes with a little garlic and chili oil for a taste treat.
Three is not a crowd in this flavorful assortment of hummus. Using the same base for all three makes this an easy way to create variety. Just stir in different toppings right before serving. Whether your guests like their dip spicy, earthy or traditional, there will be something for everyone.
Stuffed mushrooms are a crowd pleaser at any get together. These artichoke and cheese stuffed mushrooms are an easy and delicious version to impress your guests with. Plus they can sit alone allowing you to create a decorative and inviting display.
Just like fruit, vegetables make for amazing arrangement alternatives to flowers because of their color, shape and texture. Try a mix of cauliflower, artichokes, mushrooms and rosemary sprigs. To arrange them expertly, first add a floral foam brick inside of the vessel after soaking it in water. Then secure each vegetable in place by pressing it to the floral brick. Once they’re in place, fill the gaps between them with rosemary sprigs.
When arranging produce, alternate colors, textures and sizes to create a display that looks as delicious as it tastes. In this centerpiece, artichokes, grapes and plumcots are arranged around a large bosc pear. Try to find produce that is unique and seasonal, although it's OK to mix in some imported, out-of-season fruit as well!
Add fruits, vegetables, nuts, seedpods and pinecones to bring the table to life. Purchase produce that complements and contrasts so that the colors, textures, size and shape work together to create a feast for the eyes.