Artichokes are big thistle plants that originated in Italy and were brought to the United States by Spanish settlers in the 1600s. Artichokes might look intimidating, but learning to cook them is worth it, because the scales (leaves) and heart are delicious and tender, with a somewhat nutty flavor. With this guide to buying, preparing and cooking artichokes, you’ll be an expert in no time, impressing your taste buds with your new found talent!
How to choose a fresh artichoke
- Hold it! It should feel dense, or heavy, for its size.
- Its leaves should be firm (never spongy) and tightly packed, either bright green or green with purple undertones.
- Any size is OK, as long as it meets the above criteria. Different varieties come in different sizes. Larger ones take longer to cook, though.
- If the leaves are loose, dry, splayed, spongy, split, or pitted, put it back. This artichoke is overripe and will be tough.
When you get home, store the artichokes in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. They will stay fresh this way for 4-5 days.
How to prepare artichokes for cooking
- First, take a look at this diagram to familiarize yourself with the anatomy of an artichoke. Note that the choke is inedible. Some people eat the stem after removing the fibrous outsides of it.
- Rinse the artichoke in the sink, and tap it, pointy-side down to remove any critters that may be hiding in the leaves, especially if you purchased organically-grown artichokes.
- Now, cut off the top quarter of the artichoke with a knife. Then, cut off the stem if you want. Some people like to leave it on because it tastes good!
- Using kitchen shears, snip off the pointy ends of each leaf; you don’t want to get pricked!
That’s all you need to do before cooking the artichokes, but if you plan to stuff them, or if you want eating them to be more convenient, you’ll also want to remove the choke from the center. Foodblogga has posted an excellent tutorial including all of these steps (along with photographs). She also shows you how to eat an artichoke (after you cook it, of course) by scraping the leaves against your bottom teeth. Most of the edible portion of the leaves is on the bottom third. After you’ve eaten all of the leaves, the heart is a yummy reward!
Those of us who aren’t up for culinary adventures on weeknights will be happy to learn that artichokes can be steamed in the microwave quite quickly! Just serve them with a dipping sauce like flavored mayonnaise, sour cream, butter or a salad dressing, and enjoy!
Cooking For Engineers has a great recipe for grilled artichokes, including step-by-step photos.
Artichokes with basil mayonnaise is another simple (simply delicious) recipe.
This turkey-stuffed artichoke recipe has an Indian twist, with seasonings like turmeric, chili, and garam masala.
Can you make rice? Then you can make this impressive walnut, bacon, and rice stuffed artichoke. It has a beautiful presentation… just right for having company over!
Did you know that baby artichokes are completely edible? They are fully mature, but since they grow low to the grown in low light, the fuzzy, gross “choke” part never develops in the center. Try this shaved artichoke salad, made with baby artichokes and parmesan cheese, and topped with olive oil and lemon juice.
Kate at GlutenFree Gobsmacked shows us how she made roasted artichokes after a long, tiring day of errands.
You can buy at the grocery store both canned and frozen artichoke hearts that are all ready for use.
Ingredients for Hot Artichoke Dip
The canned ones come either packed in water or marinated and there are many recipes that use these convenient tasty guys.
Startcooking.com’s Hot Artichoke Dip
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