Fresh artichokes are a true gift of spring, but there is a barrier to entry: the tough, spiky leaves. Learning how to prepare artichokes is essential for cooks. Filleting a raw fish, carving a chicken, and paring and artichoke down to its heart are all classic elements of culinary school final exams.
Once you’ve mastered the prep, it’s time for the fun part. Fresh artichokes are delicious stuffed with cheese and breadcrumbs and baked. The hearts can be pan-fried and served on risotto, but don’t overlook the simplest method. Boiled artichokes eaten with melted butter are a delicacy; we consider them the lobster of vegetables. Learn how to prepare artichokes, and they’ll quickly become one of your favorite foods.
How to trim an artichoke
Start by peeling off any very rough outer leaves. Trim the stem so the artichoke can lay flat. Then, using a serrated kitchen knife, cut off the top ⅓ of the flower (did you know it’s a flower?). If your petals have aggressive spikes, you can trim each leaf tip with kitchen shears.
Alternatively, you can cut the artichoke in half long ways. Remove the toughest leaves, then use a spoon to scoop out the center, removing the fuzzy hairs that make up the choke. Trim the bottom ½ inch of the stem. This is a great way to prepare an artichoke before grilling, braising, or roasting.
How to cook an artichoke
Fill a large pot with water and the juice of one lemon. Once boiling, add the prepared artichokes and cook for 30-35 minutes, or until the petals are easily removed and the stem is tender when pierced with a knife.
Add 2 inches of water to a large pot fitted with a steamer basket. Once the water is boiling, add the artichokes, turn the heat down to a simmer, and cover. Cook for 45 minutes to 1.5 hours, or until the petals are easily removed and the stem is tender when pierced with a knife.
Prepare artichokes by trimming and seasoning. Place the artichokes in a pan with some water in the bottom and cover tightly with foil. Bake at 475°F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a leaf comes off easily. We served these baked stuffed artichokes with a side salad featuring mushrooms and pears.
Sear artichokes in a pan with butter for 5 minutes. Add enough stock to reach half way up the vegetables, cover, and cook for 20 minutes or until tender.
How to use jarred artichoke hearts
While nothing can beat a fresh artichoke, a jarred artichoke works well in certain applications. They are usually marinated, and can be quite acidic, so these are best paired with lots of fat. Great uses include:
- Spinach artichoke dip (made with cream cheese)
- Creamy artichoke pasta (with lots of parmesan cheese, cream and/or butter)
- Artichoke Bruschetta (made with mayonnaise)