Artichokes are one of those foods that cause people to wonder, "How did we ever figure out that this was a food?" Good thing we did because they're tasty, with a rich, nutty flavor and low calorie count (about 25 calories for a medium-sized choke). Artichokes are also versatile, so it pays to learn how to cook artichokes in a number of ways.
When you pick out an artichoke in the produce section, it should be firm and feel heavy. The petals should look full and not dry or wrinkled.
Before cooking an artichoke, give it a quick rinse. Hold it under the faucet and let the running water get in between the petals, where dirt can sometimes still settle. Look for any petals that look tired and pull those off.
Next, trim the stem off the artichoke at the base. The stem is edible, but can take up too much space in the pot, so it’s best to cook those separately after you peel the outer layer off with a paring knife or vegetable peeler. You can cook these stems whole, or cut them into little circles and save for a stir-fry later.
If you like, you can cut the top of the artichoke off. Some people think it’s prettier this way, but it’s certainly not necessary. If you are going to cut off the top, use the sharpest knife you have and be careful, artichokes are tough and not easy to cut through.
There are several varieties of artichokes, and some have sharp thorns on them. If the artichokes you buy have thorns on the petals, clip off the tips with kitchen shears.
Once you’ve gotten them cleaned and trimmed, cooking them is the easy part. One of the most popular and common ways to cook artichokes is by steaming them.
To steam artichokes, get a steamer basket and put it in a pot of water. Fill the water up to the bottom of the basket and place the artichokes in stem side down. If you are only cooking one or two artichokes, you can cut them lengthwise in half to help speed up the process. Some people also like to squirt a little lemon juice into the water to help flavor the artichokes.
Put the pot on the stove and turn the burner on high until the water starts to boil. Turn the heat down so that water is gently simmering and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. The artichokes will take about 30 to 40 minutes to cook, but you might want to set a timer for 20 minutes so you can check on the water level in the pot and add more if you need to.
Boiling artichokes is also a common method of cooking them. You don’t need to worry too much about the water cooking out with this method. Put the artichokes in the pot, stem side-down, and fill the pot until the water comes up to about the middle of the artichoke. Let the water come up to a light boil and cook for about 30 to 40 minutes with a lid on the pot.
If you don’t have an oven and tend to do most of your cooking in a microwave, you can still easily cook artichokes. Take one or two artichokes and put them in microwave-safe bowl with 1/2-cup of water. Wrap the bowl in plastic wrap and cook for about 7 minutes on the high setting. When the buzzer dings, let the bowl rest for about five minutes before checking to see if they’re done.
So, When Are They Done?
An artichoke is done when you can pull a petal out easily, without any resistance at all. Once you’re able to do that, take them out of the pot and serve them up! That’s all there is to it. So, don’t pass these up next time they’re in season—give them a try!
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