Saturday, April 9, 2011

Don't Just Eat the Artichoke Hearts!

When I am looking up recipes for artichokes I usually only see recipes that call for using canned or frozen artichoke hearts.  But I'm here to tell you that you are missing out on the best part!  Ever since I was a little girl, my dad has been making artichokes--and I think I am willing to say that they are my favorite vegetable... I think...  We have been using the same recipe for years, and it really is a classic and a favorite in our house hold.  Here's what you do:

Purchase several whole artichokes.  With a large knife, cut the stems off.  Then remove some of the outer leaves because they are too tough to enjoy.  Cut a couple inches of the top off as well.  This gets some of the thorns that are on the tips of the leaves and makes it a bit easier to handle.  Remove the very top of the leaves (just the part with thorns).  Then the artichokes are ready to be cooked.  This may sound like a lot of effort, but honestly it's not that bad.  After you get the hang of it, it really only takes about 5 minutes.

Fill a large pot with water and put the artichokes in (it helps to put them in upside down first so they stay down in the water).  Cut a lemon in half, squeeze the juice in, and add both halves to the water.  Add several bay leaves, a few smashed garlic cloves, a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, and a bunch of celery leaves and a few stalks.  Celery leaves have more flavor than the stalks, so I like adding more leaves than stalks, but you can do whichever you prefer.  Bring everything to a boil and let it go on a slowish boil for about 45-50 minutes depending on the size.  To make sure it's done, take a fork and pierce the bottom and the lower leaves to make sure they are nice and tender.

When they are done, remove them upside down and put them on a plate so they can drain.  It should look like this:
 Let them drain for a few minutes so you don't scald your hands.. it's painful.  The final product is a delicious, tender, yummy artichoke!
I made these for some people in college once and they were confused about how to eat it (which seriously detracted from their experience... it could also have had to do with the fact that I forgot to remove the thorns), so I'm going to give helpful or painfully obvious hints just in case you're unfamiliar!  Take off the leaves and bite the bottom fleshy part.  If you want to dip it in something you can melt some butter, use mayonnaise, or if you're feeling fancy, make hollandaise sauce!  As a side note, artichokes are an extremely healthy vegetable, rich in fiber and protein so you can feel less guilty about dipping the leaves into butter!  When the leaves start to get really thin and less meaty, cut the top off and make sure to get all the little thistle, prickly things off, and then you are left with the soft tender bottom.... the absolute BEST part.  When I get to this part I do everything in my power to savor every last piece of it... I recommend cutting it into tiny pieces.  Even without any sort of a dipping side it has an almost buttery flavor.

Artichokes are about to "be" in season so go out and get some WHOLE artichokes and start cooking!

What is your go-to vegetable?


3 or 4 artichokes
at least 8 cups of water
3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
3-4 smashed garlic cloves
1 celery stalk broken up
a large handful of celery leaves
3-4 bay leaves
1 lemon, juice and the halves

1 comment:

  1. I have to admit something, my darling...

    I've never had a whole artichoke. To eat. I've pretty much only ever had artichoke dip! *shameface* Now I have no excuse not to try and make these :)