Steaming or grilling artichoke is one of BF and my favorite “veggies” to eat for dinner. Steaming artichokes takes a little bit of practice; but once you get it down, you’ll keep it in your cooking repertoire. I once tried to explain (over the phone and across many states) to my dad how we cook artichokes using this method. (He had bought an artichoke at a farmer’s market and was looking for a way to cook it.) Unfortunately after following my directions, his artichoke did not turn out.
Probably the only thing that can ruin this method of cooking artichoke is picking a bad one to begin with. I’m almost positive this is what my dad had to have done (unless he didn’t cook it long enough). BF and I have had a few bad artichokes along the way, and they do not taste good. Then I researched what to look for when buying a good artichoke at the grocery store. Now that we are artichoke savvy, we rarely buy a bad one — sometimes artichokes just aren’t in season (and then we won’t buy them).
As it turns out, the only bad growing season for artichokes is winter — which is not to say you can’t buy a good artichoke in winter; they’re probably just going to be more expensive and harder to come by. (Spring is the best time to get them.)
When picking through artichokes at your local grocery store, look for leaves that are close together (you do not want to buy an artichoke that looks like it’s blooming or opening up) and the color of the artichoke should be vibrant green.
- 1 to 2 large globe artichokes
- 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, cut in half (can leave skin on)
- 1 bay leaf
- To cook the artichoke, fill a large soup pot with water about one or two inches high and boil. Set a steamer basket in the bottom of the pan and make sure the water does not reach over the basket.
- Cut off all but about one inch of the artichoke stem. Place whole artichokes into the pot and cover. Reduce heat to medium.
- Steam for 20 to 30 minutes. To tell if the artichoke is ready to eat or not, you can push on the outside of the artichoke leaves. If it feels hard to the touch, cook it longer. The real test is to just taste one of the leaves. The meat of the inside of the leaf should slide off easily when scraped against your teeth.
- If the meat doesn’t come off the leaf very easily, it needs to be cooked longer.
We like to eat our artichoke by dipping the leaves into melted butter seasoned with garlic and salt. I’ve also seen artichoke leaves dipped in balsamic vinaigrette and garlic aoili.
After you’ve eaten your way through all the meat on the leaves, you reach what BF and I think is the best part: the artichoke heart. The artichoke heart is covered in what looks like hair. You need to remove the “hair” before eating. Cut the artichoke heart in quarters to make it easier to remove the hair and to eat.
Pull the hair out from the root. This can take a while as the hair will stick to your fingers as you’re trying to pull it out. It’s pretty messy! Just make sure the artichoke is “bald” before you eat it.