Artichokes – the vegetable version of a pinecone. My thanks to the brave soul who first figured out a prickly artichoke was good to eat. Served warm, room temperature or chilled, I often put a platter out for guests hanging out in the kitchen to snack on as I finish cooking dinner. When the leaves are gone and the fuzzy choke is removed, a prize awaits – the artichoke heart. Slice and devour. If you’ve never cooked one, this post is all about artichokes to help make you comfortable cooking them.
All About Artichokes
The Official Vegetable of California, artichokes are available year round with best availability in spring and fall. Artichokes are a good source of potassium, folate, fiber, magnesium, and vitamins C and K, artichokes are also packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients. When shopping, choose artichokes that feel heavy for their size. Petals (or leaves) should be tightly closed. Artichokes are best stored refrigerated.
How to Buy Artichokes
Fresh artichokes should be compact, plump and feel heavy for their size. If the artichoke squeaks when squeezed, it’s fresh. Leaves should be green and tightly closed. If the leaves (called bracts) are brown and splitting, the artichoke is most likely past its prime. The exception to this is winter harvest artichokes. They may have light brown scaling on the leaves due to frostbite. Although not as pretty, they still taste good.
About Baby Artichokes
A quick note on “baby” artichokes. They may be called baby because of their petite size, but they are a fully mature artichoke picked from the lower part of the plant. With a little trimming, you can eat the whole thing as the fuzzy center choke has not developed.
How to Prep and Cook Artichokes
To prep, trim the stem flat to the base. Next, slice off the top quarter to third. Using a serrated knife makes it easier. With kitchen scissors, trim remaining leaf tips of barbs. At this point I rub my artichokes wtih cut lemon to deter browning, then use the lemons for cooking the artichokes.
Whole fresh artichokes can be boiled or steamed. Depending on size, it takes about 30-40 minutes. You can make them ahead and serve them chilled or serve them warm out of the pan. Artichokes are done when a leaf from near the center pulls out easily. Another way to test is to insert a thin metal skewer through the heart. See recipe ideas below.
What to do With Artichokes
- Steamed artichokes with Lemon Garlic Dipping Sauce
- How to trim and prepare baby artichokes
- Grilled artichokes
- Steam, split, remove choke and stuff with chicken salad, crab salad, quinoa, etc
- 2 large whole fresh artichokes
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 lemon
- few grinds black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 large sprigs fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried herbs Italian blend, basil, oregano
- To prep artichokes, trim the stem flat to the base. Next, slice off the top quarter to third. Using a serrated knife makes it easier. With kitchen scissors, trim remaining leaf tips of barbs. Rub artichokes with cut lemon to deter browning. Place artichokes in a deep pot stem end up. Add a few inches of water. Add the squeezed lemon halves. Cover pot with a tight lid and bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer and cook until a leaf pulls out easily or a thin metal skewer can be inserted through the stem. Drain and enjoy warm, or shill for later.