How to Cook (or Not Cook) an Artichoke

My favorite, no-nonsense way to cook a globe artichoke at home is whole and steamed, or boiled. When they’re cool enough to touch, I pull the leaves away one by one and dip them into seasoned butter, or mayonnaise or some kind of lemony vinaigrette, and scrape the tiny bits of meat off with my teeth, until I get down to the choke.

After ripping away those spiky purple leaves and all the fuzzy fluff underneath, and tossing it all into the spent pile, I’m left with the heart — that big, sweet piece of artichoke attached to the tiptop part of the stem. It’s messy, involved and so very rewarding.

If you’re up to it, you can certainly do more prep before cooking, getting rid of all the leaves so you’re left with nothing but the small, tender heart. First trim the leaves away, scoop out the hairy choke, and then take a knife to the fibrous edges. But you don’t have to, and that’s the beauty of the artichoke!

You can take a high-maintenance approach, or a low-maintenance one, depending on the season, your energy levels and what you’re in the mood to eat. But no matter how you go about things, it’s going to be delicious. Here are four more ways to prepare them:

braised
This simple recipe for artichoke hearts simmered with olive oil, lemon juice and dill has a cool tip from Martha Rose Shulman, who doesn’t like to throw away the trimmed artichoke leaves that she collects during prep. Instead, she steams the leaves separately and serves those with a vinaigrette.

Roasted
For this truly luxurious dish of roasted artichoke hearts, you’ll need to prep the artichoke hearts properly and thoroughly, trimming away any and all fibrous bits and pieces so they don’t get tough and sharp in the oven. When the hearts are browned and tender, about a half-hour, Melissa Clark tosses them with olive oil and herbs, and scatters the lot over ricotta and blanched peas.

fried
David Tanis soaks baby artichokes in buttermilk, then lightly flours and fries them. You’ll want to save his recipe for the gremolata that goes on top and use it in other dishes, too: lemon and orange zests, capers, parsley and garlic. (And if you can’t find baby artichokes, you can fry mature globe artichokes.)

Raw
If you come across particularly nice baby artichokes, you’re in luck. Just pull off some of the tough exterior leaves and trim the stem and top, then slice the artichoke meat very thinly. Dress with lemon juice, garlic and olive oil and toss with arugula and shaved Parmesan.

Go to the recipe.


If you’re rummaging through artichoke bins at the market right now, and you’re not sure which ones to choose, look for artichokes that aren’t discolored, that are still quite green and feel nice and firm to the touch with very tightly packed leaves. Yes, you want the joints of the leaves to be loose and easy to pull apart when the vegetable is cooked, later on, but not now!

And if you’re in the mood for artichokes after reading this newsletter, but fresh ones aren’t an option, you should definitely consider Eric Kim’s stunning spinach-artichoke lasagna or his green bean and artichoke salad, both of which make the absolute most of canned artichokes.

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