Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables not only ensures your meal is fresh and full of flavor, but it also reduces your carbon footprint as it requires limited refrigeration. If you are looking for a seasonal vegetable this month, artichokes are an excellent choice for you. It is a delicious, fresh vegetable that many people only enjoy out of a can or bottle. With these simple “how to” cooking instructions, I hope you enjoy serving fresh artichokes while they are in season this year. Not only will I share with you how to cook artichokes whole without a steamer but also a delicious garlic, lemon, butter artichoke dipping sauce you are sure to love.
How To Cook Artichokes Whole- Boil Without A Steamer
There are various cooking methods for artichokes, but the most basic way to prepare them is to boil or steam them. These two methods are very similar and in fact my method is a bit of both. I use 1 and half inches of water so that the bottom heavy part boils while the leaves mostly steam. I like this method of cooking artichokes because it can be done without a steamer but also because the part of the artichoke that boils is the toughest and I like the way it tenderizes the stalk and the heart. If you prefer artichokes can be raised out of the water altogether by placing them in a steamer basket.
How To Prepare Artichokes
To prepare the artichoke for cooking, place on a cutting board and slice off the top of the artichoke. This will remove about an inch or the tip of the prickly leaves. You may also wish to trim some of the lower leaves using a pair of kitchen shears. While this is not absolutely necessary, it does accomplish two things. Doing this will open the artichoke up to the steam and remove the sharp tips of the leaves so no one accidentally pokes themselves.
Next, we prepare the bottom of the artichoke. Use a serrated knife to slice about an inch off the stem base (as pictured above) to remove the toughest part. Then pick-off the small green leaves surrounding the base of the stem and discard. These tough outer leaves are not edible.
How To Cook Artichokes In A Pot
In a large pot, add 1½-inches of cold water, a pinch of salt and place the artichokes face up with the artichoke stems facing towards the pot. Make sure they sit at the bottom of the pot with enough distance in-between each other. To keep the artichokes from turning brown, squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the pot and drop the rind into the pot as well. This is optional but you may drop a bay leaf into the lemon water for extra flavor.
No steamer is needed but if you wish to use one you could drop the artichokes into a steamer which would keep them lifted out of the water. This cooking method works just fine boiling the artichokes with or without a steamer.
How Long Does It Take To Cook Artichokes
Turn the stove to medium-high heat and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover, maintaining a low simmer. Cook for about 30-45 minutes depending on the size of the artichoke. Large artichokes will take longer.
I flip them over about half way through. The artichoke will change colors as it cooks losing the vibrant green and becoming an olive green. When finished, the leaves should easily peel away from the artichoke stem and the stem will be tender to fork prongs.
How Eat An Artichoke
Now that the artichoke is cooked, how do you eat it? Well, an easy way to do this involves just a bit more preparation before serving. The artichoke will still be very hot so use care. Take a sharp knife and slice the artichoke in half lengthwise. Then best way to remove the fuzzy choke is to use a spoon to scoop it out. The choke is little light green fluffy part and the small thin pointy leaves from the center. Discard the choke. Now it is ready to be served and enjoyed. People say artichokes have a slightly nutty flavor.
I eat an artichoke by starting with the outer leaves and working my way in. This saves the best for last- the delicious artichoke heart!
The easiest way to eat the tender leaves is described in detail below.
The pulp at the base of each leaf is the only part of the leaf you eat. You just place the base of the leaf in your mouth horizontally and your teeth scape the pulpy goodness off as you pull the leaf back out of your mouth. Discard the leaf. The leaves get more tender as you progress inwards. You can eat more of the tender inner leaves. Then you will find yourself at the center with just the artichoke hearts left.
Most people consider the heart of the artichoke the most flavorful part of the vegetable. Cut it into pieces, (removing any tough part of the stem), share, and enjoy.
I always serve artichokes with a large bowl for people to drop the artichoke leaves in once they have eaten the edible portion.
How To Make Artichoke Dipping Sauce
To give the artichokes a bit of extra flavor, I prepare a dipping sauce that I use for each leaf and the heart. Just whisk together 2-3 freshly squeezed garlic cloves, juice of 1 lemon, and 2-3 tablespoons of melted butter. You can use olive oil in paces of melted butter if you prefer.
Printable Whole Artichoke Recipe
Serve the dish with extra plates, as people will need to discard the leaves after they’ve dipped them and eaten the fleshy bottom portion of the artichoke. Cooking and eating artichokes in this way is fun as you get down to the very best part, the heart, right at the end. It is like a prize for your work getting there!
Have you visited your farmers market and taken advantage of peak artichoke season yet? What are some of your seasonal March produce favorites?