When most of us consider artichokes, what comes to mind are pizza toppings, salad additions and purees—not sandwich accents.Yet the humble artichoke is exactly the ingredient with which Au Bon Pain’s culinary team began engineering its most successful limited-time offering of 2009, the Chicken Artichoke Sandwich. They could have started predictably and made their base from meat and bread. But instead they chose a briny, slightly slimy heart of a spiny, stubborn thistle with which few animals ...

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