How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

I can imagine, that if you didn’t grow up eating artichokes and if you were encountering them for the first time, they might seem a little intimidating. How one cooks and eats an artichoke is not obvious from its appearance. If you’ve always wondered how to cook and eat the darn things, here are the steps:

How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke

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  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes

When you are at the market buying artichokes, choose those in which the petals are still rather closed, not open. They will be more fresh and more tender than artichokes where the petals have opened. Also, artichokes that have been "frost kissed" are especially tender and delicious. They'll look like they are a little burned by frost, so won't be as pretty as those not frost bitten.

Ingredients

  • 1 or more large globe artichokes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 slice of lemon

Method

How to Cook an Artichoke

1 Cut of the tips of the petals: If the artichokes have little thorns on the end of the petals, take a kitchen scissors and cut of the thorned tips of all of the petals. This step is mostly for aesthetics as the thorns soften with cooking and pose no threat to the person eating the artichoke.

2 Slice off the top of the artichoke: Slice about 3/4 inch to an inch off the tip of the artichoke. A serrated bread knife works great for this.

3 Remove small petals at the base: Pull off any smaller petals towards the base and on the stem.

4 Cut off excess stem: Cut off 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 leave the whole long stem on the artichoke, just cut off the very end of the stem, and peel the tough outside layer of the stem with a vegetable peeler.

5 Rinse the artichokes: Rinse the artichokes in running cold water. While you rinse them, open up the petals a little so that the water does get inside more easily. (This is where it helps to have cut off the thorny tips, it makes the artichoke easier to open without getting poked!)

6 Set up a pot with some water, aromatics, and a steaming basket: 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.

7 Steam the artichokes: Place artichokes on top of the steaming basket. Cover the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer.

How to cook and eat an artichoke

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.

How to Eat an Artichoke

Artichokes may be eaten cold or hot, but I think they are much better hot. They are served with a dip, either melted butter or mayonnaise. My favorite dip is mayo with a little bit of balsamic vinegar mixed in.

1 Pull off outer petals, one at a time. Dip white fleshy end in melted butter or sauce.

2 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.

Continue until all of the petals are removed.

3 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 and dip into sauce to eat.

My favorite artichoke dipping sauce? Some mayonnaise with a little balsamic vinegar stirred in. Some people like dipping artichoke leaves and the heart into melted butter or a vinaigrette.

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Links:

Artichoke history

Wikipedia on Globe Artichokes

Recipes:

How to Grill Artichokes

Baked Stuffed Artichokes 

Braised Marinated Artichokes

Quick and Easy Artichoke Dip

How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke

Showing 4 of 172 Comments

  • Gerald Arcuri

    Am I the lone dissenter when it comes to artichokes? I live within a ston’s throw of a region in California known for growing some of the finest domestic artichokes. I can literally get them right off the stalk. I have used the recipe on this website, (which is easy and works very well ) plus my family’s Italian recipe. Sorry. I just don’t get artichokes. There is practically nothing to eat in them. All you really taste is the dipping sauce plus a very, very tiny amount of flavor from the artichoke itself. If humanity had relied on eating this thistle for its survival, Darwin’s theory would have disposed of Homo sapiens a long time ago. To those of you who enjoy artichokes, I say with enthusiasm, you’re welcome to my ration of them. I’ll stick to eggplant.

  • Mark

    Dipping sauce…..mixture of melted butter, squeezed lemon, and garlic salt. Simple and very good.

  • Krista

    Thank you! I would not have thought to cut the top off or trim the outer leaves. I really had no clue. I am cooking mine now! My brother made them for me once and wanted to try them ever since. I plan to use butter for dipping!

  • Craig Kosturik

    Thanks for this! I’ve always eye-balled them in the store, but had no idea what to do with them. Ever since I got an electric steamer a while back, I’ve been trying to steam vegetables that are new to me. They were much easier than I thought they would be and tasted wonderful! Thanks for the preparing (and eating) tips.

  • Sunyn

    My mother was US born Sicilian. She made them like her mother. Put garlic between the leaves and bread crumbs. We dipped in butter with garlic. She used the steam method with the chokes sitting on cut off stems in about one inch of water. I do remember them cooking an hour or more.

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