This Is by Far the Easiest Way to Prep and Cook Artichokes
Wherein we remove the mystery and include you in our favorite seasonal obsession.
I am deeply and importantly passionate about artichokes, and in season, they are my single greatest vice. I buy large globe artichokes by the case, steam them four to six at a time, and eat them in pairs, dipped in a punchy lemon Dijon caper dressing. I can eat artichokes literally every single day while they are in season, and still miss them as soon as they leave the stores. They might be the only food on the planet that is utterly craveable, but also terrifically good for you. An indulgence that you cannot overdo (if you aren't stuffing them with breadcrumbs or deep frying them or dunking them in butter), they are the perfect obsession. They're low in calories and carbs, high in fiber and antioxidants, full of good for you nutrients like folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, B complex vitamins, and a rich source of minerals like potassium and manganese, copper and iron, and even calcium! The same, sadly, cannot be said of chips or ice cream.
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So, it always makes me sad when I hear that someone doesn't want to go to the trouble of cooking artichokes at home because they think they are too hard to prep and cook. Once you learn how, prepping an artichoke should take you less than a minute, and they steam in 20-40 depending on size. I feel it is my civic duty to share my process with you so that you too can go deep on artichokes all spring!
1. Choose the right artichokes.
Start yourself off right by picking great artichokes. Look for tightly closed flowers that are heavy for their size and squeak a bit when you squeeze them. The stems should not be brown or dried out, and the leaves should not feel dried out on the edges. I prefer the larger ones, since they have the biggest hearts, which is at least half the reason to do all this work!
2. Steam, don't boil.
Set up a steamer with an inch and a half to two inches of water in the bottom and put on to come to a boil.
3. Prep fast and easy.
Sure, artichokes are pretty when each individual leaf is delicately pared down to create a flower, and when the stems are peeled. But pretty and fast are not compatible, and I do not want to fuss when prepping my dinner.
Start by halving a lemon, a great use for an old one that might be on its last legs. One half a lemon should be good for up to four artichokes.
Using a serrated knife, slice the stem off of the bottom of the artichoke to make it flat. Place the artichoke on its side, and holding the knife at a slight angle, slice around the rest of the bottom, turning a quarter turn as you get close to the cutting board, to remove the tough leaves and reveal the full bottom of the artichoke. Snap off any leaves that seem extra tough. Rub the cut side of the lemon on the bottom to prevent browning. Holding the artichoke tightly to the cutting board on its side, slice straight through the top end to remove all the remaining tips at once, and leaving at least an inch and a half to two inches above the bottom intact. Rub the cut side of the lemon on this top edge to prevent browning on the exposed edges of the leaves. Here's a little video to help you out.
4. Steam until tender.
Place the prepped artichokes bottoms up in your steamer, cover, and cook for between 20-40 minutes depending on how large they are. A knife should slide in easily with no resistance in the middle of the heart.
To get the most from your artichoke, find a dipping sauce you love, remove the leaves one at a time, dipping the bottom edge in the sauce and scraping the meat off the bottom of the leaf with your teeth. Repeat, working around the artichoke until you get to the small leaves that cover the choke. Using a spoon, and holding the point of the small leaves, slide the spoon in right at the edge where the little leaves meet the heart. If you hit the right spot the spoon will slide between the fuzzy choke and the bottom, allowing you to remove the whole top in one piece with the inedible choke attached. Cut the heart in bite sized pieces, dip, and enjoy!