Preparing and Enjoying Artichokes!

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Artichokes remind me of spirographs… yep, just dated myself

I stopped by the Sprouts that just opened in Westwood today and was figuratively pummeled by the amount of sales on produce. Since our spring this year in Southern California has been a bit… well, chilly for the average (spoiled) bear, it was awesome to see all of my favorite things on sale for early summer. Strawberries ($0.88 a pack!), raspberries ($1.50!), apples ($0.88/lb!)… the humble little housewife in me was brimming with excitement. When I saw that large artichokes were on sale for $1.00 per artichoke, I almost fist pumped. (I wish I were exaggerating.)

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Slightly misleading… definitely used kitchen shears and not my chef’s knife for this!

A freshly-steamed artichoke is a thing of wonder, but there is some prepping required before you can enjoy your bounty. In this particular entry, I’ll talk about steaming it—but there are other ways, such as grilling or even microwaving, that yield equally delicious results. It’s a great appetizer or low-key snack, and healthy too! The best part about eating a whole artichoke despite the initial prep work is the ‘snacking sensation’ you get, similar to digging into a bag of chips. Since you can’t jam all of the leaves into your mouth, you’re forced to eat it slowly—and you end up feeling fuller than you expected when you’re done! Just keep in mind that when you buy artichokes, the freshest ones have leaves that are still tightly bound to the center.

(Note: Since this isn’t much of a recipe and almost more of an informative blog post, I’m foregoing the normal “recipe” format. What a deviant I am!)

Ingredients:

1 artichoke

1 slice of lemon

1 garlic clove

Instructions: 

  1. Rinse the artichoke thoroughly to make sure there isn’t anything caught between the leaves.
  2. Cut the tips off of the leaves to get rid of the pokey thorns—I use my kitchen shears, which is much easier than a knife!
  3. Use a knife to cut the top off of the center of the artichoke (for larger artichokes, usually ½ -1 inch will do). This makes it easier for you to access the center (and for the steam to reach the center as well).
  4. Fill a larger pot with 1-2 in. of water, then toss the lemon slice and garlic clove into the water.  Place the steaming basket inside, then place the artichoke on top.
  5. Bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer for ~30 minutes. Artichokes can vary in cook time depending on how large they are—I would check at 30 minutes to see if the leaves pull away easily. If they still provide resistance, wait for another 5 minutes and check again.
  6. Carefully remove the steamed artichoke from the pot and enjoy!

For the uninitiated when it comes to eating a steamed artichoke:

  1. Pull off a leaf.
  2. Grab the leaf where you trimmed it, then turn it so that the white pulpy side is facing down.
  3. Pull the leaf through your teeth so that your bottom set of teeth scrapes the pulp away from the leaf.
  4. Repeat until you reach the purple-tipped leaves/fuzzy center.
  5. Use a spoon to cut into the circumference of the fuzzy center, then gently spoon the fuzzy center away from the artichoke heart.
  6. Eat its heart!!! (This sounds rather barbaric, doesn’t it?)

I like to dip the artichoke pulp into a small amount of balsamic mayonnaise—just 2 Tbsp. of mayonnaise mixed with ¼tsp. balsamic vinegar. But you can really eat it plain with a little bit of salt if you’d like—the lemon and garlic give the artichoke a nice fresh flavor.

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It’s kind of healthy… minus the spoon of fat, of course

 

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