How to Prep and Cook Fresh Artichokes Perfectly Every Time
You’ll never buy artichokes in a jar or can again.
Artichokes are undoubtedly delicious, but when it comes to cooking them at home, it may seem like too much work for such a short-lived reward. While it does take a bit of time and patience, there’s a world of difference in taste between canned artichokes and home-cooked. Also, once you get the hang of cooking artichokes at home, you’ll never look back.
In addition to their exquisite flavor and unique texture, artichokes are packed full of necessary nutrients like fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. They’re also beneficial for liver health, similar to garlic and turmeric. Another great thing about artichokes is that they’re best served with simple ingredients like olive oil, lemon, salt, and butter.
How to Buy Artichokes
The artichoke season has two parts. In March, artichokes first become available until May. In October, artichokes flash back into season again. You might even be able to find them beyond, as artichokes often come from warm places with extended growing seasons.
Just like any other kind of produce, there’s a trick to finding the best artichokes for cooking. Search for the ones that are heavier in weight with thick, tightly-closed leaves. Each should pull off with a suction-like pop. If the artichoke leaves have a deep green color and squeak when you rub them together, they’re perfect. Some black spots are fine, but you should skip artichokes with larger smears of black.
When buying artichokes, be careful handling them around the leaf tips. This is where the plant’s spines, usually trimmed low, might give you a sharp poking.
How to Clean Artichokes
Now, this is the most time-consuming part of cooking artichokes, but don’t let that deter you. The steps below will teach you how to clean an artichoke like a pro:
- Remove a few rows of your artichoke's outer leaves, which are inedible. Then rinse the artichokes under running cold water and then pat them dry. Remove any stray leaves from the stem, if needed.
- With either a knife or a kitchen shears, carefully cut the sharp tips from the leaves, and then cut about an inch off the top of the artichoke.
- Use half of a lemon to rub on the exposed parts of the artichoke to prevent it from oxidizing and turning brown.
- Cut the stem, leaving about an inch, and then peel the outer skin since it can taste bitter. Make sure to rub lemon on the bottom of the stem, too.
- Clean the artichokes by running them under cold water, making sure to clean between the leaves. Then submerge them in a bowl with cold water and lemon juice or vinegar until ready to steam.
How to Cook Artichokes
There are many ways to cook artichokes. Some of the most popular are boiling, braising, frying, and grilling.
That being said, most artichokes have to be steamed or boiled before cooking so they can get soft and tender. To do so, set a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water and add artichokes to the basket stem side down. If you want to take the flavor up a notch, add herbs, lemon, and garlic to the boiling water. Cover the pot and reduce the water to a simmer while the artichokes steam for 30 to 45 minutes. If you can easily stick a knife in the center of the artichoke, it’s ready.
At this point, you can eat the artichokes as is by scraping the meat with your teeth. You can also dip the artichoke leaves into melted garlic butter or a horseradish aioli for a savory spin. But if you want to apply another cooking method—say, give them some grill marks or brown them on the grill—we're in full support.
When braising, begin with a heavy pot. Start by giving artichokes a brief sauté in olive oil with a few garlic cloves. Deglaze with white wine if you want. Add water so it rises about halfway up the artichokes’ sides. Now, toss in chopped herbs, like parsley and mint. Cover the pot. Let them simmer, adding more water if needed, until a knife slides in easily.
Grilling artichokes requires an extra step. Start with halved or quartered artichokes. To begin the cooking, you need to boil them for 5 to 10 minutes. This is to par-cook them, paving the way for even grilling. Once they’ve boiled, remove them from the water. Coat the artichokes with olive oil and seasonings. Finish them on a hot grill.
When frying artichokes, go thin. Shoot for wedges of about half an inch. This gives you many wedges per artichoke and lets them deep-fry quickly and evenly. Dredge and drop them into a pot of frying oil as you would any vegetable. They won’t take long!
Here is your standard delicious artichoke dip made lighter, thanks for the addition of Greek yogurt (in place of mayonnaise, cream cheese, and sour cream). Adding little bit of olive oil makes it rich and extra creamy.
This flavorful relish recipe will add extra zing to grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers, and subs. Best part? It takes 10 minutes.
The salty richness from the shaved Parmesan cheese and the tanginess from the marinated artichokes will have you craving seconds of this super simple pasta dish.
This recipe for crispy double-friend artichokes will make the perfect summer appetizer—pair it with the lemon aioli dip and a glass of crisp, fruity rosé.
The recipe options are endless when it comes to cooked artichokes. If you'd rather wing it, flavors that work will with artichokes include pine nuts and mint, cheese and olive oil, lemon and parsley. Dip fried artichokes in creamy dressing, toss braised artichokes and pasta, or enjoy grilled stems and wedges beside a crisp white wine.
Now that you know how to pick, clean, and cook artichokes, you can impress your friends and family at the next get-together!