Artichokes are green vegetables that are loaded with vitamin C, potassium and dietary fiber. With a tough, spiky exterior and a prickly choke in the center, artichokes require just the right method of cooking and cleaning to come out tender, delicious and even edible. Steaming is the best way to cook an artichoke quickly and easily while preserving the healthy benefits.
Cleaning and Cutting
Rinse a large artichoke under cool, running water to remove the thin film that coats the outside of the artichoke. Leaving this film in place could cause your artichoke to taste bitter. Set the artichoke on a cutting board and cut 1 inch off the top of the artichoke using a sharp, serrated knife. Cut at least one-half inch off the stem side of the artichoke as well. Cut more off if you want the cooked artichoke to stand up on a plate.
Preparing the Artichoke
Peel the thickest artichoke leaves from the outside of the vegetable. Peel off and discard two or three layers from the artichoke, until the leaves become thinner and more tender. Cut off any spikes left on the exterior artichoke leaves using kitchen shears. Rub half a lemon over the artichoke, making sure to rub the lemon juice over cut parts of the artichoke to prevent them turning brown during cooking.
The Cooking Process
Place a steamer basket in a large cooking pot. Fill the pot to the bottom of the basket with water or water and white wine. Add a bay leaf, lemon slice and clove of garlic to the water. Place your prepared artichokes stem-side-up in the steamer basket. Cover the pot and bring the water to a simmer. Cook the artichokes until they are tender and you can easily remove the leaves with your fingers. This takes between 25 and 45 minutes, depending on the size of your artichokes.
How to Eat One
Enjoy artichokes hot with melted butter for dipping, or chilled with creamy dressing for dipping. If your family is new to eating artichokes, you may have to demonstrate the method for your children. Remove an artichoke petal with your fingers, dip the base of the leaf in your sauce, then use your teeth to scrape the tender meat from the leaf's base. Discard the rest of the leaf. When you eat most of the leaves, you can use a spoon to remove the spiny choke from the center of the vegetable and eat the tender heart.
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Leigh Good has been writing for magazines and newspapers for more than 10 years. Her work has been published in numerous print and online publications. Good has a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Georgia State University.