Artichokes are a thistle that are super tasty! Here’s a guide to help you learn how to cook and eat artichokes. Learn how to prepare them, and get my favorite recipe for stuffed artichokes!
Artichokes: An Edible Thistle
Artichokes are a strange vegetable for the uninitiated, but an absolute delight for those of us who love them!
When I was a kid, it was always an exciting night in our household when we had artichokes with dinner. I must admit that I wasn’t a kid who liked a whole lot of vegetables, but I always loved artichokes!
It was so much fun to eat them leaf by leaf, the perfect little handheld morsel for small fingers.
But, if you’ve never cooked or eaten one, to see them in the grocery store can be quite daunting. What on earth do you do with this crazy looking thistle? Here I will show you how to cook and eat artichokes!
Artichokes are in season in the springtime, and have just started to show up in local grocery stores in my area.
That said, they grow almost year round on the central California coast, which is where most of them come from. They like the mild temperatures and fog of that region.
Artichokes are in the thistle family, and each leaf has a little spine on the end of it.
While artichokes do take a little bit of preparation and time to cook, in my mind it is totally worth it! The taste is beyond comparison.
How to Cook Artichokes
To just look at them, you may wonder what in the heck to do with them. I’m here to help you out! It’s actually quite easy.
Wash and Trim
First, wash the chokes well under running water, making sure to rinse between all of the leaves. Then use a sharp knife to cut off the top inch or so of the pointy end.
This next part is a trick I learned from my grandma. Cut the tips of the remaining leaves with kitchen shears to eliminate the sharp points.
My Mom doesn’t bother with it because she has calloused fingers, probably from eating artichokes her whole life! Do it if you feel like it, but it’s definitely not necessary.
Then remove the smallest leaves near the stem. Cut the very end of the stem off, then use a paring knife to peel off the outer layer on the stem.
This is one thing that not many people know about – the artichoke stem is just a tasty extension of the heart, once you trim off the outer layer. So I always leave the stem on.
Boil or Steam
For the next step you have a choice, boil or steam the artichokes. Either way works well.
I will show you how to boil them, but if you’d like to steam them put them in a steamer basket in a large pot with a few inches of water. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil and steam the artichokes until they are tender.
To boil them, put the trimmed artichokes in 3-4 inches of water in a large pot. They will float a bit and that’s ok.
Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium, cover and simmer for about 30-60 minutes. The time largely depends on the size of your artichokes. These were quite large and took about 45 minutes.
Check to see if they are done by sticking a paring knife into the choke right where the stem meets the base – it should go in easily without any resistance.
Once they are fully cooked, take them out using tongs, and put them upside down in a colander in the sink to drain and cool.
How to Eat Artichokes
At this stage they are totally ready to eat, and this is how we often prepare them. Just put out a dipping sauce of some kind like mayo, melted butter, or blue cheese dressing (our favorite) and you’re good to go.
Cut of the stems and eat them first, then dip the juicy end of each leaf into your sauce and scrape off the artichoke “meat” with your teeth. I know, it doesn’t sound too classy, but trust me, it is!
I do have a fancier way for you to make artichokes, however. We only do this every once in a while, but when we do we’re never disappointed as it’s so incredibly delicious!
We stuff the artichokes with seasoned breadcrumbs and bake them until crispy.
While your artichokes are draining, mix together some breadcrumbs, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and oregano.
Once the artichokes are cool enough to handle, cut off the stems (and eat them!), and put the artichokes onto a baking sheet.
Gently spread out the artichoke leaves, and use a spoon to put the breadcrumb mixture in between all the leaves as best as you can.
Top the artichokes with the remaining breadcrumbs, and grate some parmesan cheese on top.
Bake in a 350°F oven until the stuffing mixture is golden brown, 10 minutes or so.
This right here is one of my favorite foods ever! Every leaf will have a little bit of the breadcrumb mixture, and is so incredibly tasty.
Eat the Artichoke Heart
Once you get through all of the leaves, you will get to the hairy choke.
Scoop out this fuzz with a spoon or paring knife (or use your fingers if you’re hardcore like my Mom. I think she was born with an artichoke in her hand).
Then you’ve reached nirvana, aka the heart of the artichoke. This is to be savored like a fine wine! Really, though, the flavor is incomparable and can’t be described in words.
You’re just going to have to try it for yourself if you never have! It’s such a tasty treat, and I’ve recently learned about how healthy they are for you.
Did you know that artichokes have one of the highest antioxidant levels of any vegetable? Guess that means I’ll need to start eating more of them!
Go ahead and give artichokes a try if you haven’t before. And if you have, try my recipe for stuffed artichokes, they are so good! I know you’ll love them.
Learn How to Cook Other Vegetables
Here are a few other not-so-usual vegetables you may need a little help learning to prepare in a way that makes you fall in love with them at first bite!
- How to Cook Jerusalem Artichokes
- How to Cook Burdock Root
- What to Do with Cabbage
- How to Cook Beets & Their Greens
- 8 Ways to Eat Radishes & Their Greens
- How to Cook Turnips & Their Greens
- Easy Ways To Cook Winter Squash
- Steamer Basket optional
- 2 artichokes
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic finely minced
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano or 1 tsp fresh oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh thyme
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Prepare and Cook the Artichokes
- Wash the chokes well under running water, making sure to rinse between all of the leaves.
- Use a sharp knife to cut off the top inch or so of the pointy end.
- Cut the tips of the remaining leaves with kitchen shears to eliminate the sharp points.
- Remove the smallest leaves near the stem. Cut the very end of the stem off, then use a paring knife to peel off the outer layer on the stem.
- Put the trimmed artichokes in 3-4 inches of water in a large pot. Alternatively they can be put in a steamer basket with a few inches of water underneath.
- Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium, cover and simmer for about 30-60 minutes, depending on the size of the artichokes.
- Check if they are done by sticking a paring knife into the choke right where the stem meets the base – it should go in easily without any resistance.
- Once they are fully cooked, take them out using tongs, and put them upside down in a colander in the sink to drain and cool.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- While the artichokes are draining, mix together the breadcrumbs, olive oil, minced garlic, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper.
- Once the artichokes are cool enough to handle, cut off the stems (set them aside) and put the artichokes onto a baking sheet.
- Gently spread out the artichoke leaves, and use a spoon to put the breadcrumb mixture in between all the leaves as best as you can.
- Top the artchokes with the remaining breadcrumbs, and grate some parmesan cheese on top.
- Bake in a 350°F oven until the stuffing mixture is golden brown, about 10 minutes.
- The artichoke stem is just as tasty as the heart, once you trim off the outer layer.
- Once you get through all of the leaves, you will get to the hairy choke. Scoop out this fuzz with a spoon or paring knife to get to the artichoke heart, which is delicious!
Thanks for this recipe.
I love globe artichokes.
Thanks for the step by step directions!
One question for you, which are tastier small or large artichokes?
I’d assume small, but I would think they would lack ‘meat”.
Sometimes small or young versions of vegetables are underripe. I don’t have a frame of knowledge for artichokes, so your answer is most appreciated.
Diana kohler says
Better, cook them in the microwave. Less energy, heat , time– more taste.
Microwave takes away the nutritive value!!!
Chris A. Marcus says
My mom also boiled them, I do to, and I also love them. I am going to try roasting them as you can with so many other vegetables. I have had no luck growing them myself form seed or plant, but will continue to try. Any Tips?
I grow 18 globe artichoke plants in my allotment. I started from seed and as they grew big I divided them. Sow lots of seeds to get very few plants. Alternatively, buy a piece of root from a garden centre, fill the hole with a good amount of manure mixed with compost and let it grow. When the plant is 2 y.o. and producing artichokes you can divide them and make more plants for free. I love artichokes. Hope this helps you.