I have always loved artichokes but must admit that I usually only at them when I was dining out. I would always see them at the grocery store and would find myself picking one up only to put it back down because I would ask myself “what am I supposed to do with this thing?” Recently I put myself on a mission to get over the intimidation of the artichoke and taught myself how to prepare them so that I can enjoy at home. It takes a little practice but after cooking them a couple of times, it no longer seems like a terrifying thing. They are perfect in soups, on salads, and I also love to drizzle with balsamic vinegar and eat them alone.
Artichokes have always been a staple of the Mediterranean diet and that is for a very good reason. They are high in dietary fiber, Potassium, Vitamin C, and Folate. In addition to this, they are low in calories. Adding just 1 serving of artichokes to your daily diet will give you 25% of the RDA for dietary fiber. Artichokes also contain an abundance of antioxidants, many of which are rare to find in such a high percentage in other fruits and vegetables. In addition to this, their unique look is sure to keep the kids fascinated with what you are getting ready to cook!
How To Cook & Eat An Artichoke
1. If the artichokes have little thorns on the end of the leaves, take a kitchen scissors and cut of the thorned tips of all of the leaves. This step is mostly for aesthetics as the thorns soften with cooking and pose no threat to the person eating the artichoke.
2. Slice about 3/4 inch to an inch off the tip of the artichoke.
3. Pull off any smaller leaves towards the base and on the stem.
4. Cut excess stem, leaving up to an inch on the artichoke. The stems tend to be more bitter than the rest of the artichoke, but some people like to eat them. Alternatively you can cut off the stems and peel the outside layers which is more fibrous and bitter and cook the stems along with the artichokes.
5. Rinse the artichokes in running cold water.
6. In a large pot, put a couple inches of water, a clove of garlic, a slice of lemon, and a bay leaf (this adds wonderful flavor to the artichokes). Insert a steaming basket. Add the artichokes. Cover. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 25 to 45 minutes or until the outer leaves can easily be pulled off. Note: artichokes can also be cooked in a pressure cooker (about 15-20 minutes cooking time). Cooking time depends on how large the artichoke is, the larger, the longer it takes to cook.
7. Pull off outer petals, one at a time.
8. Dip white fleshy end in melted butter or sauce. Tightly grip the other end of the petal. Place in mouth, dip side down, and pull through teeth to remove soft, pulpy, delicious portion of the petal. Discard remaining petal.
9. With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the “choke”) covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces to eat.