How to Battle an Artichoke (and Survive to Tell the Tale)

To start, let’s just acknowledge that artichokes are intimidating. When you see them in the produce aisle, they look like little grenades with spikes on the ends of their leaves. Then, when you start to actually work with them, they appear to be related to Russian nesting dolls with all of the layers of leaves…and then when you get through the leaves, you happen upon a forest of spiky hair! Surely, these oversized members of the Thistle family don’t go down without a fight…but the battle is winnable, and the spoils of victory are awesome.

All that said, if you’re still reading, you’re clearly not scared off by the task at hand, so let’s proceed. There are a few ways to fight this war. The way that we’re focusing on is steaming an artichoke, but if you prefer to grill or roast, take a gander at our Heart Beet Stromboli Recipe, which has steps and pictures for that method. Both methods work really well, and you’ll be happy with the result (if you like artichokes)…but we wanted to highlight steaming for this post since it’s a much quicker process (water being a better conductor of heat than air, and all).

Time: 50 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • An Artichoke
  • Lemon Juice

Method: (Step descriptions in captions under pictures)

Using Kitchen Sheers, snip the pointy parts off your leaves so they all have flat tops.
Cut an inch or so off the very top of your artichoke and about 2 inches off the stem.
Steam your artichoke(s) for about 25 minutes in water with a little lemon juice added in. We don’t own a steamer basket, but the internet helped us with a little hack involving foil (which we always have) to build a little perch to keep our artichoke slightly above the water line.
Peel back the steamed outer leaves one at a time until you arrive towards the really thin inner leaves. As you remove these, you can snack a bit by using your teeth to squeeze out the little bit of heart at the part of the leaf that attaches to the stem.
Keep peeling! Note that when you get to the leaves pictured above, the tops are pretty pointy, so be careful. These leaves, you can just eat the whole bottom of rather than having to scrape out the good part with your teeth. Be careful not to eat too high up though, as you don’t want the pointy parts sticking your tongue!
When the thin (almost translucent) leaves with the purple tops are fully removed, you’ll see an artichoke heart all covered in spiky hairs. Use a spoon to remove these by digging around (think like removing the gills of a portobello mushroom). Once these are removed and discarded, you’re good to go!

5 comments

  1. One of my favorite foods. Your example is the largest version, here it would be a artichoke from Brittany, the westernmost province in France, and definitily a large player in the artichoke industry. Other smaller and younger artichokes come from Italy and Spain as well as other mediterranean countries.
    My mother used to just shorten the stem, submerge it in a large enough pot with water to let it float and place it head first in the pot. You should salt the water with a teaspoon of salt, because it brightens the pulp ypuo pull from the leaves. At home, my mother would always melt some butter and add some lemon juice to make a kind of dip, which I loved.
    When I met my former significant other, she introduced me to a different dip, made of a medium french mustard (I forget the brand, but that detail was important) and some vegetable oil, not olive, but rapeseed or sunflower oil. She would use a whisk to stretch the mustard with the oil. It grew on me, and now I like both dips. I wouldn’t recommend French’s mustard, it needs to be a simple but european mustard. Give it a try some time!

    1. Ooh, thank you for the tip on the salt! I will absolutely do that next time. And I will have to try to whip up those dipping sauces in future adventures.

      As for the size, that fascinates me. I only really see the big ones here…occasionally, I find some that are a little smaller and sold in a 4 pack, but now I very much want to find young artichokes!

    1. Thank you! I had a lot of fun writing this one, and it makes me happy beyond words that you enjoyed as well!

Leave a Reply