Artichokes are one of those things that are rarely served at dinner parties and aren’t commonly found on menus. Why? Because they’re a little intimidating, and cooking them (and even eating them) isn’t exactly intuitive. By the way, when I say ‘artichoke’, I don’t mean the artichoke hearts that come in a jar and are used for that yummy creamy spinach artichoke dip that’s always a hit. I’m talking about whole raw artichokes that resemble a small grenade.
A couple of years ago, I attempted to cook some artichokes for dinner. I must’ve prepared them incorrectly, because they were very ummm…difficult…to eat. I’ve never described a food as ‘scratchy’ before, but that is definitely how I would have described these artichokes. Needless to say, I scarred my husband with that experience and he pretty much never wanted to eat another artichoke again. Oops
Since then, I’ve been bound and determined to properly cook an artichoke that was not only edible, but delicious too. The other day I finally braved up and bought 2 whole artichokes to make for dinner. And, surprise surprise, they turned out great! Here are my tips for preparing and eating artichokes. Enjoy!
How to Prepare an Artichoke:
There are tons of different recipes for artichokes, but the following are the basic steps for how to prepare and cook an artichoke. If you would like to make the Grilled Artichokes with Parsley and Garlic recipe that I used, skip down to the bottom of this post and follow the recipe instructions for preparation and cooking. Otherwise, to prepare an artichoke for a snack or a simple side, follow these steps:
*Note: have a lemon on hand to prevent artichokes from browning
1. Wash the artichoke to remove any dirt on and beneath the leaves.
2. Cut off about an inch from the top of the artichoke. Cut off a portion of the stem, leaving about 1 inch left.
3. Use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to cut off the sharp tips of each of the leaves. (This is an optional step as the leaves do soften up a bit during the boiling process. Although it does remove any prickly bits from the leaves, this step is mainly for aesthetic purposes.)
4. Immediately after cutting each artichoke, rub the cut areas with half a lemon to prevent browning. If you are preparing several artichokes, have a bowl of cold water mixed with some lemon juice on hand to place cut artichokes in.
5. Artichokes can either be boiled, steamed or microwaved. Artichokes are done cooking when they are tender, and a leaf can easily be pulled from the center of the artichoke.
To boil: Boil the artichokes in salted water for 25-40 minutes, until tender.
To steam: Place a steamer basket inside a pot filled with 1-2 inches of water. Bring water to a boil. Place the artichokes in a steamer basket and cook covered for 15-30 minutes, until tender.
To microwave: Microwave artichokes in a covered microwave-safe dish for 8 minutes, adding additional time if you are you are cooking more than one artichoke.
1. Have small plates or bowls set aside for discarding leaves.
2. To eat, pull off a leaf, one at a time, from the artichoke. Dip the leaf into melted butter, mayonnaise, or some other sauce. Place the leave in your mouth, with the inner leaf part facing towards you. Bite down and draw the base of the leaf through your teeth to remove the tender portion. You basically are scraping the tender inner leaf portion with your teeth to consume.
3. After all the leaves have been removed, scrape off the inedible prickly “choke” with a spoon. The choke is the inedible part of the artichoke and is the fuzzy white and purple prickly part. Once the choke is removed, the artichoke heart will now be exposed. The heart can now be cut into pieces and eaten or used in other recipes.
Here was the delectable artichoke recipe I used, courtesy of Giada DeLaurentiis.
Grilled Artichokes with Parsley and Garlic
6 fresh artichokes
2 lemons halved, plus 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
Trim the stem from each artichoke to 1-inch long, then bend back and snap off dark outer leaves. Cut top inch of artichokes with serrated knife. Using a vegetable peeler, peel dark green areas from stem and base of artichoke. Quarter each artichoke. Using a small, sharp knife, cut out the choke and remove the purple, prickly tipped leaves from the center of each wedge.
Place finished artichokes in a large bowl of cold water and squeeze 2 lemons into the water and stir. Continue with remaining artichokes.
Once finished, drain the artichokes and place into boiling water and cook until crisp-tender, about 12 minutes.
Drain the cooked artichokes and place onto preheated grill. Cook until tender and lightly charred in spots, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl, add remaining lemon juice (1/3 cup) parsley, garlic and salt and pepper, to taste. Gradually drizzle in olive oil.
Toss or drizzle the grill artichokes with the garlic/parsley mixture and serve.