Artichokes Made Easy
Artichokes have been known to intimidate even adventurous eaters from penetrating their tough, spiky exterior. Yet, like all the best classic tough guys (Humphrey Bogart, say, or Edward G. Robinson) that bravado proves to be all show—they have hearts of gold. Get to the heart of an artichoke and it’s savory, delicious, and well worth the effort to extract it.
How to cook artichokes? You can easily steam them at home: Simply clip off the spiky tips of the exterior leaves with kitchen shears, then rub the stem and cut ends with lemon (artichokes will oxidize and turn brown unless they’re given this treatment), and, finally, steam them. To eat, peel off each leaf and scrape the savory flesh off with your teeth. (A dip of melted butter or flavored mayonnaise elevates this experience to something heavenly.) Or simply buy your artichoke hearts frozen, canned, or jarred. In a pickled brine, they especially shine as an addition to pizzas, creamy dips, or rich pasta—the contrast of the acidic hearts goes a long way toward balancing out heavy dishes.
Here are seven lucky artichoke recipes to make you a pro in no time!
Start with a good basic recipe, like Artichokes with Herb-Butter Sauce (the preparation is pictured above). Fresh artichokes might seem confounding, but it’s really fairly simple to prepare them. Once they’re steamed, you can’t do better than a simple sauce made with butter and fresh herbs for dipping.
There’s something about the mix of spinach and artichokes in a creamy, cheesy dip that brings people running. The slight acidity of the artichokes keeps the dip from being overwhelmingly rich, and the result is a gooey masterpiece that’s downright addictive.
This is the type of meal the slow cooker was made for: throw the ingredients in when you’re going through your morning routine, come home to an aromatic Tuscan chicken dish. Bonus: The couscous is cooked with the savory broth from the chicken, so it’s packed with flavor.
Don’t get stuck in a casserole rut. This creamy casserole makes the most of ingredients most of us have on hand—staples like chicken, cheese, and onions—then ramps up the flavor with artichoke hearts and oil-packed tomatoes. It’s a great choice for entertaining, since you can throw it together ahead of time.
Need a showstopping appetizer for your next dinner party? Try these fancy steamed artichoke halves, stuffed with a mixture of cheese, breadcrumbs, tomatoes, and fresh herbs. They bake up bubbling and golden brown—a lovely start to a meal with friends.
Vegetarian lasagna doesn’t have to be the same old spinach version you’ve served for years—this recipe, make with baby artichokes, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and ricotta cheese, is much more interesting. It would go beautifully with a green salad and glass of Chardonnay.