How to Cook Artichokes: A Guide to Boiling and Steaming

Artichokes may appear intimidating, but cooking them is actually quite simple. In this article, we’ll explore two methods of cooking artichokes – boiling and steaming. Not only will we learn how to prepare the artichoke by trimming its prickly leaves, but we’ll also discover how to remove the inedible choke and enjoy the delicious heart at the center.

How to Cook Artichokes

Understanding Artichokes

Artichokes are distinctive olive green or purple globes that stand out among other vegetables. Despite their stunning appearance, they are surprisingly easy to cook. By using basic cooking methods like boiling and steaming, we can soften the protective outer leaves and savor the artichoke heart, making it a delightful appetizer to share.

Not only are artichokes a treat for the taste buds, but they also offer numerous nutritional benefits. They are rich in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, calcium, iron, and potassium. While roasting and pressure cooking are alternative methods of cooking artichokes, they require slightly different preparation.

How to Prepare an Artichoke

To cook a whole artichoke, start by cutting and trimming the outer leaves. The tips of the leaves can be prickly like thorns, so it’s best to cut a few rows from the top to expose the inside of the vegetable. This usually amounts to about half an inch to an inch, depending on the size.

Use kitchen shears to trim off the tips of each leaf. Remember, all the edible meat is at the bottom of the leaves, attached to the base, so trimming the tips doesn’t waste any part of the artichoke. Cut off the stem at the bottom so that the artichoke can sit upright when served. However, if the fibrous outer layer is peeled off, the stem is also edible.

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Person trimming the leaves of an artichoke

Boiled Artichokes

When preparing boiled artichokes, start by bringing a pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the prepared artichoke to the water, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover the pot.

To test if the artichoke is done, carefully transfer it to a plate and tug on one of the large outer leaves. If the leaf easily comes off the base, the artichoke is ready. If not, place it back in the water and continue cooking until it reaches the desired tenderness. The cooking time ranges from 20 to 35 minutes, depending on the size.

After boiling, drain the artichoke and allow it to cool slightly before serving.

How to boil an artichoke
Tongs removing a boiled artichoke from a pot of water

Steamed Artichokes

For steamed artichokes, fill a pot with enough water to avoid submerging the steamer basket. Place the trimmed artichoke in the steamer basket and position it in the pot. Cover the pot and steam the artichoke over medium-high heat.

Once steam builds up in the pot, cook the artichoke until the outer leaves are easy to pull away from the base. Use tongs to remove the artichoke from the pot with the heat turned off. Take caution when removing the cover, as the steam is very hot.

Similar to boiling, the steaming process takes approximately 20 to 35 minutes, depending on the size of the artichoke. Allow it to cool slightly before serving.

How to steam an artichoke
An artichoke on a steamer basket inside a pot

Removing the Artichoke Heart

After enjoying the leaves, you’ll reach the meaty heart at the core. Simply remove the inedible fuzzy and bristle-like piece on top. The heart will be tender from the chosen cooking method, making it easy to cut in half and enjoy immediately. Additionally, you can use the artichoke heart in various ways, such as coating it with breading for a crispy exterior or adding it to salads, pasta, or pizzas.

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How to remove the artichoke heart

The Perfect Sauce for Artichokes

While artichokes can be enjoyed plain or simply seasoned with salt and pepper, they’re even more delightful when paired with a sauce. Consider serving them with hollandaise, melted or browned butter, garlic mayonnaise, or pesto sauce. Each leaf can be dipped in the sauce, and the meat can be scraped away using your teeth. Don’t forget to cut up the heart and enjoy it with your chosen toppings!

Person holding an artichoke leaf in a white dipping sauce

Expand Your Culinary Skills

If you’re interested in learning more about cooking various ingredients, check out these helpful guides:

  • How to Cook Beets
  • How to Cook Quinoa
  • How to Cook Farro

For more exciting how-to recipes, visit Family Cuisine.

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