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The Art of Artichokes

Love artichokes? You’re not alone: They’re one of those ingredients that seem to make any dish an instant sell, whether on a restaurant menu or at home. And their striking blossom-like appearance of furled, subtle green leaves makes them an inspiration in the kitchen.  

Growing up, steamed whole artichokes served with a dipping bowl of melted butter was a treat us kids looked forward to as much as chocolate cake. Just the thought of them still makes me happy!

True, a globe artichoke can be a bit daunting to trim and clean. It’s a relative of the thistle, and its tightly packed, thorn-tipped outer leaves and bristly “choke” are evidence. But no special skill is needed to get them pan ready. All you need is a few minutes, a sharp knife and a good paring knife. But if you’re not up for the task you can always resort to some delicious prepared products: Frozen artichoke hearts, jarred marinated hearts and canned hearts are super-convenient ways to get your artichoke fix.

How To Clean an Artichoke

  • For cooking whole: Tear off the tough petals around the outside of the artichoke until you get to lighter-colored petals Cut off the very top of the artichoke, cutting just below the prickly tips of the petals. Clip off the prickly tips lower on the artichoke with kitchen scissors. Remove the tough skin from the stem with a paring knife and trim the bottom. If you need the artichokes to sit level, cut off the stem entirely, but don’t discard this tasty tidbit — cook it along with the artichokes.
  • For artichoke hearts: Run a paring knife around the base of the artichoke, removing dark petals until you get to tender ones with yellow-green bottoms. Slice off all but 1 inch of the top of the artichoke. Use a teaspoon or melon baller to carefully scoop out the papery petals and hairy choke at the center of the artichoke, exposing the heart. Peel the stem and leave it on, or separate it from the base of the heart.

The cut edges of the artichokes will turn brown quickly, so drop cleaned ones in a bowl of acidulated water (water to which you’ve added the juice of half a lemon) while you prep the others.

Winning Artichoke Recipes

Steamed Artichokes with Creamy Walnut Dip Recipe

Whole Artichokes

Here’s a perennially popular recipe that harkens back to how my family enjoyed artichokes: Steamed Artichokes with Lemon Butter Sauce. It’s an easy recipe but a classic. You can replace the butter with any number of sauces as well: A flavored mayonnaise like aïoli is popular, or a lighter sauce like romanesco is also brilliant. I love the nutty flavor of Steamed Artichokes with Creamy Walnut Dip, and it’s vegan to boot.

Baked Artichokes Stuffed with Red Quinoa Recipe

Stuffed Artichokes

One of the great things to do with an artichoke is use it as a natural container for a savory filling. Bread-based stuffings  were the standard in days past, but I’m thrilled with a crop of new recipes that feature whole grains. Check out Baked Artichokes Stuffed with Red Quinoa, a terrific example that has enough protein to make it a vegetarian main course. Baked Stuffed Artichoke with Garlicky Whole Grains is a versatile dish you can customize with your own favorite grains: wheat berries, farro or brown rice would all be excellent. And for a great way to utilize a convenience food (prepared crab cakes), you can’t beat Crab-Stuffed Artichoke, a recipe you could easily double or triple.

Chicken and Artichoke with Farro Recipe

Fresh Artichoke Hearts

The tender heart at the center of this vegetable is definitely the prize, and you can use these meaty morsels in a number of impressive dishes. A favorite spring recipe is Chicken and Artichoke with Farro, absolutely packed with flavor and unexpected enough for entertaining. In this delicious Paella with Chicken you may find the hearts eclipsing the other ingredients – artichoke lovers can double the amount called for.

Artichoke and Broccoli Pasta Salad Recipe

Prepared Artichoke Products

Marinated artichoke hearts are a great ingredient to have around for big flavor with little prep. They’re the master ingredient in this popular Killer Artichoke Dip, a recipe so delicious you may find yourself turning to it again and again. Marinated hearts are also ideal for elevating just about any salad to celebratory status. Here they star in Artichoke and Broccoli Pasta Salad − plan a picnic!

Canned artichoke hearts are another product I’m eternally grateful for. Tuscan Lamb and Artichoke Stew is an exceptional recipe for them, perfect for Easter or any celebration. They’re also terrific in sophisticated Eggplant and Artichoke White Lasagna, a vegetarian must-try.

And finally, one of the greatest turkey burgers of all time gets a mouthwatering boost from a unique artichoke topping in this recipe for Crispy Turkey Patties with Artichoke Chimichurri. Don’t miss it!

Love artichokes? Tell us how you prepare them.