Don't Joke about my Artichoke

Photo: Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Artichokes are by far and away one of my more favored vegetables. I love the whole bizarre leaf-teeth-wiping-eating technique, I love the ouchy, prickly choke furr, and I love the taste of the golden treasure that lays beneath it all, the heart. I would describe it as sort of earthy, sort of sweet, not unlike a savory mushroom.

When I was a kid, I had my first artichoke when I was 6 years old. Living in California at the time, my hipster parents were all about grilled salmon steaks, artichokes with the crudites, and bleu cheese dressing. My dad even had a mustache and zippered ankle boots. We were all about embracing our SFO 'hood in the '70s.

Now, every spring, when those round, green globes are more easily found at the supermarket, I grab 5 or 6 and share one with my daughter (who also loves the whole teeth-swipe-eat thing). While we avoid the butter or mayonnaise, I do like to drizzle olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and loads of fleur de sel. No joke, I love you, Artichoke.

Steamed Artichokes

This is the simplest way to prepare artichokes — there’s hardly any trimming involved. The time is spent in the eating.

2 large or 4 medium artichokes

1 lemon, cut in half

1. Lay an artichoke on its side on a cutting board. Using a large, sharp knife, cut away the entire top quarter in one slice. Rub the top with the cut lemon. Cut off the stem at the bottom, so the artichoke will stand upright, and rub the bottom with lemon. Pull off the tough bottom leaves (bracts). Then, using scissors, cut away the thorny end of each remaining bract. Rub the edges with lemon.

2. Bring two inches of water to a boil in a steamer or pasta pot, and place the artichokes in the steaming basket. If they are too big to fit, place them directly in the water. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes or until a leaf easily pulls away. Remove from the heat. Serve hot or at room temperature with a sauce for dipping the leaves. Use your teeth to scrape the flesh from the bottom of the leaf. Have a bowl or plate on the side for the discarded leaves. When you reach the papery leaves that cover the heart in the middle, cut them away along with the choke and discard. Divvy up the heart-if you must and enjoy.


Anonymous said...

Oh I taught you well. If you are in for more instant gratification use the microwave method.

Prepare artichoke as described. Put water in a small microwave dish add a shake of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder and a crushed bay leaf. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 3 min or depending on size of the choke.

Enjoy it is pure heaven !!!


Diane said...

MMMmmm, thanks for the reminder of how good artichokes are. I haven't had one in years! My family won't eat them, but now I have an adventurous toddler who might. I do like dipping them in lemon butter.

SGM said...

Oooh, I was about to google how to cook fresh artichoke--they were on sale and I bought two. What kind of dipping sauce?

Karen @ BonjourBruxelles said...

I think purists go with clarified butter or homemade mayonnaise. I like olive oil, lemon, and salt but here's something I tried that was a hit with a recent dinner party (and I NEVER use yogurt for anything other than what it's meant for: breakfast or kid snack...but this was really good)

Yogurt-Mayonnaise Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

Sea salt or kosher salt to taste

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 small garlic clove, minced or pureed

2 tablespoon mayonnaise

2 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Whisk together the vinegar, salt, Dijon mustard and garlic. Whisk in the mayonnaise, yogurt and olive oil, and blend well. Taste, adjust salt, and add pepper. Use as a dip for artichokes or other vegetables.

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