September 30, 2021
Looking at an artichoke, with its otherworldly shape and texture, you may wonder how someone would cook such a strange-looking vegetable, let alone eat it.
Given that artichokes are technically flower buds from various thistle plants, you may even ask yourself how the first person to bite into one ever came upon the idea.
But once you try one, you’ll know what makes them so enjoyable.
While artichokes may not be a staple in most households, learning to cook and eat them is actually much simpler than you’d probably assume. Adaptable to various cooking methods such as boiling, steaming, roasting, and grilling, artichokes are so easy to prepare that anyone can do it.
In this article, we’ll help you learn to cook this vegetable with tips on how to shop for, prepare, cook, and eat them. We’ll also include an easy recipe for artichokes and answer some FAQs.
How to choose which artichokes to buy
When shopping for artichokes, you can tell if they’re fresh in a variety of ways.
First and foremost, the vegetable should be bright in color. Brown stems are OK, but you’ll want to avoid artichokes with dry or slimy ones. The leaves should be compact and nearly closed, like a fresh flower bud. Before stuffing them into your shopping cart, pick up the artichoke to see if it’s dense and heavy. Those are the meatiest and less likely to be dry. Give it a gentle squeeze to see if the leaves squeak. If they do, it’s fresh.
Also, if you happen to come across an artichoke that appears slightly frostbitten, you’ve found a winner. Believe it or not, artichokes that look like they’ve been in a blizzard are the tastiest.
How to prepare an artichoke
Like apples, artichokes begin to brown once you slice them. You can reduce the effects of this by rubbing a lemon slice over the cut surfaces. When preparing an artichoke, you’ll also need a cutting board, a sharp chef’s knife, and a vegetable peeler.
- Start by peeling any small petals from the stem.
- Trim the very end of the stem but not too much, as it’s edible and delicious.
- Carefully score the cut end of your stem and rub it with the lemon.
- Peel the rest of the stem using your vegetable peeler and run the lemon over it.
- Slice off the top of the artichoke, about one-half an inch to one inch, and rub it generously with the lemon.
- Snip off the pointy tips of the leaves between the stem and cut top, touching them up with the lemon as well.
- Repeat with the rest of your artichokes and give them a rinse under cold running water before cooking.
How to cook artichokes
This recipe is best with fresh artichokes. It makes four servings, takes 10 minutes to prep and 35 minutes to cook, for a total time of 45 minutes.
4 large artichokes
1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, cut in half
1 lemon, cut into wedges
5 tablespoons of butter
- Place the artichokes, bay leaf, garlic, and a couple of lemon slices into a large pot filled with three or four inches of water. The artichokes will stick out slightly, but you needn’t worry about this.
- Put the lid on the pot and bring it to a boil over high heat.
- Leaving them covered, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the artichokes until you can easily remove the outer leaves from the base. This will take 30-40 minutes.
- Carefully open the lid as the steam inside will be hot. Remove the artichokes from the pot using tongs and let them sit for a few minutes before serving.
Calories: 231 calories
Carbohydrates: 26 grams
Protein: 7 grams
Fat: 15 grams
Saturated fat: 9 grams
Cholesterol: 38 milligrams
Sodium: 281 milligrams
Fiber: 11 grams
Sugar: 4 grams
How to steam artichokes
This method takes 20-35 minutes. You’ll need a large pot, a steamer basket, and tongs.
- Fill the pot with water slightly below the depth of the steamer.
- Load your artichokes into the steamer.
- Place the pot with the steamer over medium-high heat and let it sit, covered, until steam builds up.
- Cook the artichokes until the outer leaves pull easily from the base.
- Remove the pot lid carefully, as the steam will come out hot.
- Use tongs to transfer the artichokes to a serving plate.
- Let them sit for a few minutes while you prepare your dips.
- Serve warm.
How to eat an artichoke
While the entire vegetable is edible, parts of the artichoke are tough, fibrous, and even sharp, making for an unpleasant experience. Eating these parts can be a choking hazard. To properly eat an artichoke, start by pulling off the outer leaves one-by-one. Place the fleshy side of the leaf into your dip. Hold it tightly in your fingers and gently pull it through your teeth to scrape the soft, meaty part of the petal into your mouth. Toss the rest of the leaf aside to go into the garbage or compost later.
Once you reach the purple-tipped petals on the inside, it’s time to dip and eat the lighter parts. Using a spoon, scrape out the fuzzy part that covers the heart, known as the choke. Discard the choke and cut the artichoke heart into pieces. Dip and eat the artichoke heart, which is one of the tastiest parts of the vegetable.
Artichoke serving suggestions
Some dips that will go well with your artichoke are:
- Melted butter (salted is ideal)
- Garlic mayonnaise
- Mayonnaise with balsamic vinegar
- Pesto sauce (this one is perfect)
Cooking artichoke FAQs
How long should you boil an artichoke?
This recipe calls for an artichoke to boil for 30-40 minutes.
How do you stop artichokes from turning brown after cutting?
To prevent an artichoke from turning brown, you can either rub the cut sides with a lemon slice as you work or dunk it in lemon water. Both methods will prevent your artichokes from browning while you prepare the others.
Should I cut artichokes in half before boiling?
It’s not mandatory, but you can cut artichokes in half before boiling to reduce the cooking time if you’re only cooking one or two.
Artichokes are a fantastic addition to dips but also make a sophisticated appetizer or side dish. You can dress them up for a dinner party or serve them with your regular line-up of meals. Once you get the hang of cooking this vegetable, chances are you’re going to want it all the time. You may even want to try a recipe for baked or roasted artichokes.
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