How to Cook Fresh Artichokes

I love the grassy, sweet taste of artichokes -- the bud of a flower in the thistle family. But when I first started cooking, artichokes intimidated me.

I finally confronted my artichoke phobia when I got my first restaurant job. I needed to learn how to prep and cook artichokes -- and fast. Needless to say, I served plenty of creamy artichoke soup in those early days as I was figuring out how to cook these delicate spring vegetables. I finally know how, and there really is nothing to it. I promise.

Here are my foolproof steps for preparing and trimming artichokes, plus 4 easy ways to cook them.

1. Using a sharp knife, trim the top 1/2 inch off the artichoke.

2. Trim 1/2 to 1 inch from the stem end; if the stem is fibrous, peel it with a vegetable peeler.

3. Remove the small, tough outer layer(s) of leaves from the stem end and snip all remaining spiky tips from the rest of the outer leaves using kitchen shears.

4. Rub the whole artichoke, especially the cut portions, with a lemon half. The lemon juice will keep the artichoke from turning brown as quickly.

Here are 4 ways to cook your prepared artichokes:

Braised: Heat 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet; add baby artichokes and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup each white wine (or dry vermouth) and water and 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or rosemary or tarragon). Bring to a simmer; cover, reduce heat and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

Grilled: Halve artichokes, scoop out the choke if necessary, then toss with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Preheat grill. Place the artichokes over direct, medium-high heat and cook, turning once or twice, until tender, about 8 minutes.

Microwaved: Place artichokes in a large glass pie pan or baking dish, add 1/2 cup white wine (or dry vermouth), 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon dried thyme. Cover tightly and microwave on High until tender, about 8 minutes.

Steamed: Place artichokes in a steamer basket over 2 inches of water in a large pot set over high heat. Cover and steam until tender, about 15 minutes.

Artichokes are most often served steamed, but grilling them adds a smoky dimension to their flavor.

If you can get them, first-of-the-season baby artichokes will yield extra-tender results -- double the number of artichokes and reduce the cooking time as needed.

Grilled Artichokes

    Prep Time: 30 minutes

    Cook time: 20 minutes

    Yield: Serves 4

Grilled Artichokes Recipe Ingredients

    2 lemons

    4 large artichokes (3-3 1/2 pounds total)

    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    Freshly ground pepper to taste

Grilled Artichokes Recipe Instructions

    To prepare artichokes: Fill a Dutch oven with water; add the juice of 1 lemon. Trim leaves from the top of an artichoke. Remove the outer layer(s) of leaves from the stem end and snip all remaining spiky tips from the outer leaves. Trim an inch off the bottom of the stem and use a vegetable peeler to remove the fibrous outer layer. As each artichoke is prepared, drop it into the lemon water to prevent it from turning brown.

    When all the artichokes are prepared, cover the pan and bring to a boil. Boil until the base of the stem can be pierced with a fork, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.

    Meanwhile, preheat grill to medium. Slice the artichokes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the choke and first few inner layers in the center until the bottom is revealed. Brush each half with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the artichokes until tender and lightly charred, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving platter, squeeze half a lemon over them and garnish with the remaining lemon half cut into 4 wedges. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.

    To make ahead: Grilled artichokes will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 day and may be served chilled.

    Recipe variation: For boiled artichokes, add 5 minutes to the cooking time in Step 2. Serve whole or cut in half and scoop out the chokes.

Grilled Artichokes Recipe Nutrition:

Per serving: 109 calories; 4 g fat (1 g sat, 3 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 17 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 5 g protein; 9 g fiber; 298 mg sodium; 604 mg potassium

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (35 percent daily value), Folate (27 percent dv), Magnesium (24 percent dv), Potassium (17 percent dv)

1/2 Carbohydrate Servings

Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 1/2 fruit, 1 fat

Artichokes, Grilled Artichokes, Vegetarian


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