The artichoke is a delicious, nutritious vegetable that works well both as an entree or a side dish. There are many ways to prepare and enjoy artichokes so we’re sharing how to cook artichokes three different ways. If you’ve never cooked artichokes before, don’t fret. It’s much easier than it looks and the results are tastier than you can imagine!
Artichokes are thistles which are flowering plants that fall into the vegetable category. This edible plant is full of vitamins C and K, antioxidants, fiber, and minerals. Artichokes have detoxifying properties and may aid the liver in ridding the body of toxins. They may also help to prevent disease with their high antioxidant content. Another amazing benefit of eating artichokes is, on average, an artichoke contains around 10 grams of fiber, which is crucial for healthy digestion. Artichokes may also help to regulate blood pressure and cholesterol, making these a heart-healthy choice!
If you’re lucky enough to live in sunshine-filled California, you can enjoy artichokes year-around. Elsewhere they're in season spring and summer. When selecting artichokes, first check the weight and texture. You’ll want a heavy, firm artichoke that’s free of bruising and heavy discoloration. Some purple streaks are normal and are present in most artichokes. A ripe and ready artichoke has tightly packed leaves, if they are separating and opening up, the artichoke will be dried out and will lack flavor.
For optimum health benefits, buy organic artichokes. Conventional artichokes can be heavily sprayed with pesticides. Plus organic artichokes will be even tastier! Once you’ve picked your perfect artichokes, you’re ready to move on to the preparation phase. Follow our simple steps and you’ll be ready to cook ‘em up!
How To Cook Artichokes
Rinse your artichokes, allowing water to stream into the inner and outer leaves. Shake out the artichoke in the sink and then pat dry.
Pull off the base leaves closest to the stem and discard. Trim the remaining leaves by cutting off the sharp, pointy edges.
Using a sharp chef’s knife, chop off about ¾ inch off the crown of the artichoke.
Cut off ¼ inch from the bottom of the stem and discard. Using a vegetable peeler, peel around the stem. Next, chop ¾ of the stem off the artichoke but don’t discard! Cut the remaining stem into medallions as pictured. Reserve for later use.
Rub half of a lemon around the outside of the artichoke. This will help prevent browning. Set aside. Slice the other half of the lemon into thin rings.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add lemon slices and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Add artichokes, making sure they remain standing up. If you are using the stems, add the medallions to the pot as well. Cover loosely and boil for 30-90 minutes, depending on the size. Small artichokes will only take 30-40 minutes to cook while large artichokes will take 60-90 minutes. To tell if they are done, check to see if the leaf is fork tender. The inner leaves should be removed easily while the fleshy, edible portion of the leaf will be soft enough to bite easily. The stems should also be fork tender, they may finish faster than the artichoke and if so, remove from pot using a slotted spoon and set aside. Once artichokes are done drain in a colander and then serve alongside cooked stems.
Add enough water to a pot so that water reaches the bottom of the steamer basket. Add lemon slices and ½ teaspoon sea salt in the water. Place artichokes and stems in the basket and steam for 30 minutes or until leaves are fork tender. Serve immediately.
Follow steps one through five for preparation. Then, slice the artichokes in half, lengthwise. Remove the fuzzy choke using a spoon and discard. Place the artichokes in a pot of boiling water with lemon slices and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Boil for 20-30 minutes until tender but not falling apart.
Meanwhile, heat up a grill. If using a stove-top grill, heat over medium-high heat and lightly grease the pan with oil. Place the artichokes face down and grill for 3-5 minutes, until grill marks form. If using stems, place them in a grill basket or wrap them in foil and place on the grill until fork tender. If using a grill pan, place the stems directly on the pan. Grill until lightly charred.
How To Eat Artichokes
To eat your cooked artichokes, simply pull off a leaf and dig your teeth into the lower, soft edible flesh. Discard the rest of the leaf. Dip it into a sauce such as olive oil, melted butter, or mayonnaise if desired.
Once you get to the small inner leaves that are completely soft, pull them off and discard. Next, using a spoon scoop out the fuzzy choke. Chop up the artichoke heart and dunk in desired dipping sauce.
To eat the stem medallions, simply dip in dipping sauce and eat! Enjoy!
Here are a few more artichoke recipes to test out your new skills!
Image by Asa Dahlgren. Reprinted with permission from “The Summer Table” published in 2015 by Sterling Epicure.
Image courtesy of author Georgeanne Brennan and Weldon Owen Publishing from the book, Salad of the Day (Williams-Sonoma): 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year.
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All images via Karissa Bowers unless otherwise stated.