Artichokes are rich in fiber and nutrients so they’re a nice addition to the dinner table but if you aren’t familiar with them, they can seem a bit strange to cook. The good news is that you don’t have to be a fancy pants chef to get the job done since most of the work is in the prepping (which involves cleaning and trimming), once that’s done the rest is easy.
Here’s a tip sheet outlining how to prep and clean them along with a few different methods of cooking, no fancy equipment or skills required!
To prepare: Rinse artichokes then plunge several times in cold water to help release any grit from between the leaves. Use a sharp knife to cut off the stem so it can stand flat and then cut about 1/3 from the top. Snip off the pointy leaf tips with kitchen scissors if desired. Remove tough outer leaves around the bottom. Cook immediately or submerge in water with a couple tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar until ready to cook.
To prevent browning: Rub them with juice from a freshly cut lemon after prepping and cook quickly.
How to tell when they’re done: Pierce with a fork and it should be soft and tender. Also, a leaf should come off easily when tugged. Note: The cooking times mentioned below are simply guidelines, it will depend on size and freshness of each artichoke.
When done: Remove the inner sharp leaves in the center, scrape out the center fuzzy choke with a spoon. Stuff as desired or cut in half (lengthwise) and then in quarters (lengthwise) and serve.
Boiled: Method #1
Bring a large pot of water to a boil (using enough water to cover), add salt and then place artichoke in water (if making more than one, arrange them in a single layer). Weight down with a plate or pot lid to ensure it stays completely covered with water while it’s simmering.
Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until done (can be up to an hour depending on size and freshness).
Drain artichokes upside down for a few minutes before serving.
You can add a bit of sliced onion, fennel or a clove of garlic to the water to add a bit of flavor if you like. Tip: Add a bit of sugar and salt to the water (a teaspoon of each per quart of water), this will help retain the color and add a bit of sweetness. Make ’em shiny: Add a bit of olive oil to the water. Also adding lemon juice or vinegar to the water will help prevent discoloration.
Steamed: Method #2
Fill steamer with water just below the steamer basket, set the artichoke upside down inside the basket (stem end up), cover, bring water to a boil then cook until done…approximately 40 minutes (small) to 60 minutes (large).
If you don’t have a steamer, bring about two inches of salted water to a boil with a tablespoon of lemon juice. Position in the boiling water (stem side down), reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer until done (about 30 minutes).
Watch water levels and add more if needed.
Drain off any excess moisture by setting them upside down for a few minutes before serving.
Oven Roasted: Method #3
Preheat oven to 375°. Prep as mentioned at top then cut into halves (lengthwise) and remove the choke.
Rub with a bit of lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Place pieces in a roasting pan just large enough to fit the pieces closely and add 2 tablespoons of water (per artichoke).
Cover pan with a layer of waxed paper then a layer of aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the pan and roast another 20 minutes until browned and the bottoms are tender when pierced with a fork.
Baked: Method #4
Preheat oven to 425°F. Prep them then drizzle a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar or lemon juice between the leaves, you can stuff fresh garlic cloves between leaves as well if you like. Season each with a bit of Kosher salt.
Wrap tightly with two layers of aluminum foil and bake directly on oven rack between one and one half hours (depending on size).
Allow them to cool a few minutes before removing foil.
Microwave: Method #5
After prepping, wrap them tightly in microwavable plastic wrap and heat for about 10 minutes (time will depend on artichoke size and microwave).
Another way to do this is to place a prepared one upside down (stem end up) in a deep microwaveable dish and add about 1/2″ of water to the bottom and a splash of lemon juice. Cover dish with lid or parchment paper and heat on high for about 6 minutes, rotate half-way through heating time.
Grilled: Method #6
You actually use precooked artichokes (you can make them a couple days ahead then refrigerate until needed).
Slice in half lengthwise then brush with olive oil.
Place cut side down on hot grill for about 3 to 4 minutes then turn and cook until charred.
If you’re serving them cold: Plunge in cold water immediately after cooking (for about 3 minutes) then drain.
How to choose a good one? Lift up a few to compare the weight and select the heaviest one that feels most solid. Older ones will feel light. Leaves should be thick and tightly closed (they’ll open up as they dry out). Rub leaves together and they should “squeak” (sign of freshness).
Did you know: Their size isn’t an indicator of maturity, larger ones grow at the top of the plant while smaller ones grow on the sides.
How to eat them: Simply pull off a leaf (start at the bottom), dip into sauce then bite down on it and pull between your teeth to scrape off the flesh, discard the tough piece. As you get near the center, remove the smaller undeveloped leaves then cut out the fuzzy choke (if it hasn’t been removed already), you’ll find the heart which is considered the best part.
Did you know: You can eat the stems by peeling them first and then boil in salted water with a little vinegar added.
How to serve: Serve with melted butter and fresh lemon juice, assorted dips, hollandaise sauce and even mayonnaise.
How to store: When fresh they can be kept in the refrigerator for about week.
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