Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke

Having been born and raised in California, I was exposed to eating lots and lots of artichokes. Since moving to the Bluegrass State I have come to the realization that they are not as popular in "these parts" as they are out west. I have been amazed and dismayed at how many people I have run across who have never eaten an artichoke. I'm talking about eating a real, whole, fresh artichoke, not just those that you find in a say—artichoke and spinach dip.

Coming from the thistle family they are actually a flower. Such a unique vegetable is interesting to eat as you make your your way "petal by petal" to the very "heart." They are a powerhouse of nutrients and a meager 60 calories per artichoke.

So, relax, sit back, and enjoy this step by step tutorial and then promise me you'll run out and buy one and try it. The following is the most basic way to prepare an artichoke. These vegetables are so versatile and fun to prepare other ways as well.

Trim bottom stem from artichoke. Place them in a large pot filling with water about half way up (as you see in the photo). Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, 30 - 40 minutes or until you can easily pull off outer leaves with tongs.

Remove from pan and set on plate, or serving dish.

Peel off a leaf, dip the underside in butter.

The soft underside of the leaf has a delicate, delicious flavor. It sounds strange to say it, but scrape off the leaf with your teeth. Discard the rest.

Continue with leaves, dipping in butter and scraping.

The leaves will become softer as you go and are still edible. You'll be sorry to be running out of them, but the best part is yet to come!

When you get closer to the "choke" you may discard the remaining leaves.

The "choke" is the cluster of immature florets at the very center of the artichoke, having a purple tint to them. They are not edible.

Scrape or spoon off to reveal the "heart." They come off easily.

This picture reveals half of the heart. The florets still remain on the other half.

This is the succulent heart of the artichoke. You can either dip in butter or melt a little pool right in the middle.


Note: Artichokes cause some debate in my household. My husband likes to dip his in mayonnaise, I say they are better with butter (as is everything else—right)? Be sure to tell me which way you like it!


  1. I've always wanted to try eating a real artichoke. I admit to even buying some once, but I never cooked them. Isn't that awful?

  2. The first artichoke I ever ate like this was with the Packed Table queen herself! They were fabulous. We had them with lobsters that we murdered ourselves. (first, last and only time on that one!) But I have to admit, I agree with mayo being better than butter. Although both were delicious.