Artichokes look challenging and leave many wondering how to cook artichokes. Those bundles of intact leaves with thorny tips aren’t easy to work with. But, like everything, working with them becomes easier with practice. To learn how to cook artichokes, it is important to know all about it, including its origin, nutrition, and other recipes that include artichokes. Artichokes are loaded with various nutrients which have amazing benefits for our body. It helps in regulating the blood pressure, improves digestive and liver health, helps in treating the symptoms of irritatable bowel syndrome and one of its miraculous benefits includes that it has anticancer effects. Keeping all these amazing benefits in mind, let’s move on to knowing more about artichokes, what it is, how can you choose good artichokes while buying and how to cook them and prepare some wonderful recipes using them.
What is an artichoke?
Artichoke comes from the sunflower family of vegetables. Though it is not a vegetable, it is often included in the vegetable category. Artichoke is a flower that is harvested before its bloom. The bud blooms into a large purple flower if left into the wild. If an artichoke blooms into a flower, its parts are no longer edible.
Artichokes were first cultivated in the Mediterranean region and enjoyed by the Romans. But, as the Roman Empire fell, Arabs started to cultivate it and introduced it to Spain.
Currently, California produces almost 100% of the crop in the U.S.A. Most European nations, the U.S.A and Middle Eastern countries are familiar with artichokes, but they remain unknown to the Asians.
How to select good artichokes?
Choosing perfect artichokes will ensure that your experience of cooking and eating them turns out to be the best.
- Never choose an artichoke that feels light. The artichokes should be heavy as they are more meaty, juicy and fresh. So, that’s the firth thing that you need to keep in mind while picking up an artichoke.
- When an artichoke is fresh, its leaves are hard and ‘squeak’ when squeezed.
- As artichoke is a flower bud, its leaves should not be wide open. An old artichoke will have slightly more open leaves as compared to a fresher one. So, always choose artichokes with leaves intact to be confident that they are freshly harvested.
- You can even pick up frozen artichokes. They might not look good but they are surely delicious.
How to cook artichokes?
If you Google ‘how to cook artichokes’, you will end up reading different recipes based on the individual’s liking. Most of them like them boiled, others steam while some bake them. Either way, artichokes remain the perfect night snack as they are both an amazing finger snack and low in calories. Don’t forget to keep them handy for your next late-night movie-marathon.
You can even serve them in a party. Preparing them isn’t that difficult and they are undeniably highly scrumptious. To prepare artichokes by boiling, steaming or baking, follow the steps below.
1. How to cook artichokes by boiling?
- Wash the artichokes and slightly open their leaves. This will make it easier to cut its tips.
- Trim approximately an inch of their tips to cut the thorns and prickly leaves using a pair of scissors and remove smaller leaves at the base. You can even cut off the stem.
- Immediately put the trimmed artichokes in lemon water to avoid discoloration. To make lemon water, add a lemon to a bowl half-filled with water. The artichokes should be completely dipped in the water.
- Pour enough water into a pot to cover the artichokes. Add salt. You can also add lemon juice, garlic or other seasonings for added flavor.
- Now boil the seasoned water.
- When the water starts boiling, add artichokes directly after taking them out of the lemon water.
- Lower the flame, cover, and let the artichokes simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- To check, carefully take out an artichoke and pull off its outer leaf. If you are easily able to do so, it is ready. Otherwise, boil for more minutes.
- Strain the water and let the artichokes cool.
- Serve with sauce.
You can also boil the artichokes in a pressure cooker for 5-15 minutes. But do not overcook them.
2. How to cook artichokes by steaming?
- Prepare the artichoke similarly, as mentioned above.
- In your steaming pot, put some water till it reaches your steaming basket.
- Put salt, some garlic cloves, a slice of lemon, bay leaf and other seasonings for enhanced flavor.
- Now put the steaming basket.
- The next step is to put artichokes onto the basket.
- Now let the water come to boil and then lower the flame.
- Put a lid and steam the artichokes for 20-30 minutes.
- Check if they are ready, as previously mentioned. Be very careful as the steam might burn your hand.
- Let them cool and serve with a sauce.
3. How to cook artichokes by baking?
- Cut off the thorny leaves and stem.
- Now cut the trimmed artichokes into half.
- Scoop out the choke or the fuzzy center using a spoon.
- Rub lemon all over the artichokes to prevent browning.
- Place the artichokes in a baking dish or a baking tray resting on their round side.
- Fill up the cavities in the artichokes with lots of garlic, and fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano or Italian seasoning. This will give artichokes maximum flavor.
- Flip them.
- Brush them with olive oil or melted butter and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast in the oven for 10 minutes in a pre-heated oven. This will give a brown and crispy texture on the outside.
- Cover the baking tray loosely with foil so that they are thoroughly cooked from the inside.
- Bake them till they are ready.
- Take them out of the oven and discard all the filling.
- Drizzle lemon juice.
- Serve them with a sauce.
You can also read about How to cook brown rice.
How to eat artichokes?
The reason why artichoke is lovingly eaten is its heart, the meaty core. The heart has a top fuzzy center known as the choke. The choke is discarded because it is inedible. The meaty centre is protected by petals which are edible. In the restaurants, you will find that only its heart is used in the dishes because of its delectable taste.
Artichokes are usually eaten with sauce. The sauce can be plain mayonnaise or a mixture of garlic and butter with seasonings or a concoction of oil, vinegar and salt or just butter.
To enjoy eating them in the best way and getting the most of their meat, follow these steps.
- Pull off artichoke’s petal.
- Dip the white part in a sauce of your choice.
- Now put the saucy part in between your teeth.
- Tightly hold the outer part of the leaf.
- Scrape off the fleshy part using your teeth.
- Discard the remaining petal.
- Continue until you reach the center.
- Eat the lighter part of the purple petals with your sauce.
- Remove the choke or fuzzy part using a spoon or knife to reach its heart.
- Relish the meaty core with the dip.
Why should you eat artichokes?
- Artichokes are extremely rich in fibers. A medium artichoke has almost 7 grams of fiber, approximately 25% of the daily recommended intake. Fiber helps to ease constipation and reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) like bloating, nausea, diarrhea, etc.
- Artichokes are loaded with nutrients. A hundred grams of artichoke will provide almost 4 grams of protein, 24%, 25%, and 22% of daily recommended vitamin C, vitamin K and folic acid intake, respectively. Artichoke also possesses good quantity of minerals like iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc.
- Artichokes benefit liver health. They increase the production of bile juice that carries the toxins out of the body.
- Vitamin C provides antioxidant action. This protects the cells from damage and decreases the risk of heart diseases. Artichokes are #1 antioxidant-rich vegetable amongst all. Vitamin C produces collagen also. Collagen heals the wounds quickly and helps the body in absorbing iron, protecting it from diseases.
- Artichokes have high polyphenols. Their function is to repair damaged cells that affect your immune system. Artichokes, thus, boost your immune system.
- The leaves of artichokes have certain components that lower the bad cholesterol and increase the good cholesterol. Artichokes also reduce blood pressure. Therefore, they are beneficial for the heart.
- Artichokes have a unique fiber called inulin. It is a promising pre-biotic; pre-biotics are necessary for good gut health.
- This super-food is very low in calories. Dear health-conscious friends, add artichokes to your cart next time you go shopping.
How to grow your own artichokes?
- Artichokes can be grown anywhere with mild winters and cool summers. They generally bloom in early summer, and each stem gives several flower buds. The area in which they are grown should have full exposure to sunlight and have well-draining soil. The artichokes also require a lot of water.
- You can plant artichokes using its roots, shoots or seeds. For beginners, employing roots will be the easiest. Dig up the area deep and put the artichokes. Cover them with compost. There should be minimum 3 feet gap between every plant since they take up space when they mature. To conserve moisture, keep the area mulched. Grass clippings, manure, straw act as organic mulch.
- Late July and early August is the best time to harvest the artichokes. Now, picking them is the trickiest part because they should not bloom. Wait for the artichokes to reach its full size or approximately 3 inches in diameter. Snip off the artichokes with 1-3 inches of stem.
We hope that we have helped you with your ‘how to cook artichoke’ question. Now to answer what to cook using this delicious veggie, you can include it in a lot of dishes like soup, lasagna, ravioli, dips, pizza, etc.