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October 14, 2020
Preparing Whole Artichokes: A Primer
Preparing whole artichokes may seem intimidating. But, it’s actually really simple. This primer will teach you everything you need to know — including three different ways of cooking them quickly and easily.
If you’re drawn to beautiful displays of fresh artichokes at your local market, but afraid to prepare them at home, you’re not alone. I’ve loved artichokes ever since I was a little girl. Nonetheless, the prep seemed daunting. How should one tackle these pretty, prickly flowers?
The good news is it’s much easier than I thought! The prep takes under 10 minutes and — depending on the size — the artichokes themselves cook quickly as well. So, I hope this easy primer will have you up and running, and enjoying the pleasures of home-cooked artichokes in no time at all!
What Are Artichokes?
If you’ve never tried one, you may well be wondering what exactly an artichoke is, and where on earth it comes from. Artichokes are, believe it or not, the flowers of a thistle plant. They are native to the Mediterranean, where they’ve been cultivated and eaten since ancient times.
Recent research suggests artichokes may be helpful for people suffering with high cholesterol. Though this research is still in its early stages, artichokes are richly nutritious and low in calories. So, in addition to tasting good, they’re a wonderful addition to a healthy diet.
Prepping Whole Artichokes for Cooking
Regardless of whether you’ve found gorgeous globe artichokes or dainty baby artichokes, the prep is the same. This step-by-step photographic guide will take you through it, and your artichokes will be ready to cook in mere minutes!
Start by rinsing your artichokes lightly under running water, draining them, and patting them dry.
Then, use a serrated knife to remove about 1.5 cm from the tops, as shown in the photo below.
Then, remove any small leaves around the base, and use the same serrated knife to cut about .5 cm off the bottom of the artichokes so that they will sit flat in your cooking vessel, as shown below.
Finally, turn the artichoke in your hand, using kitchen scissors to trim the spiny tops off the leaves, as shown in the photo below.
Now, you’re ready to cook! It’s just that simple. Unless you’re preparing artichoke hearts, or cooking much later, there’s really no need to worry about acidulated water.
However, if you plan to cook your artichokes later in the day, you will want to immerse them in water containing plenty of fresh lemon juice. The lemon juice will prevent the artichokes from oxidising and changing colour prior to cooking.
Preparing whole artichokes may seem intimidating. But, it's actually really simple. This primer will teach you everything you need to know -- including three different ways of cooking them quickly and easily.
2 medium artichokes
water, for cooking
Prep the artichokes by trimming the tops and leaves of all prickly bits. Trim enough off the base to allow the artichokes to sit flat in your cooking vessel (see post for more details, including photos).
To Microwave. Place the artichokes in a covered, microwave-safe dish with enough space to accommodate them, along with 1/4 cup of water. Cover the dish and cook on high, until they are tender enough to be pierced to the bottom with the tip of a sharp knife (5 to 10 minutes depending on the size of your artichokes and power of your oven). Then, remove from the oven and allow to rest, covered, for 5 minutes.
To Pressure Cook. Place the artichokes in a pressure cooker, along with 1 cup of water. Seal the pressure cooker according to manufacturer's instructions and cook at high pressure for 8 to 10 minutes (depending on the size of your artichokes). When cooking time is finished, do a quick pressure release according to manufacturer's directions and leave artichokes to rest for 5 minutes prior to serving.
Stovetop. Bring 5 quarts of water to boil in a dutch oven. Add artichokes, stem side down, and 2 tablespoons of salt to the boiling water, and reduce heat to medium in order to maintain the water at a gentle boil. Cover and cook for 40 to 55 minutes or just until the blade of a paring knife can pierce straight through the bottom of the artichokes. Remove artichokes from the water and set on a rack to drain, upside down. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Then serve.
Serve whole artichokes with drawn butter and fleur de sel or a sauce of your choice. To eat artichokes:
Pull off the outer leaves one at a time, and use your teeth to scrape off the the soft, meaty portion at the base.
As you get closer to the centre of the artichoke, the leaves will be come increasingly tender and meaty. In large artichokes, you will arrive at a point where there are purple tipped leaves, which sit atop a fuzzy "choke". This can be scraped out with a spoon.
The base of the artichoke, known as the "heart", can then be cut up and enjoyed as a delicacy.
Preparing Whole Artichokes: A Primer
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat.41 g
Total Carbohydrate14.34 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.