Contains: Nothing known to be allergen-problematic, depending on the dip. Is: Vegetarian, and depending on your dip, vegan. Gluten-free, potentially Paleo, Whole30. Easy.
One of my favorite vegetables as a kid, and even now as an adult, is the artichoke.
Mother always simmered or steamed them in a pot on the range, no muss, no fuss.
The raw artichoke, with bottom leaves removed. And the raw stem.
I am now seeing all these recipes where one stuffs artichokes, and I read the comments from people who note “NO, I won’t go through all that bother to get so LITTLE out of an artichoke!“. Don’t blame them a bit.
So, in the interests of simplicity, here is Mother’s recipe for cooking artichokes. This does require the time and patience to sit around and enjoy, perhaps over good conversation. Family (or friend) bonding time. And, because they are slow to eat, satiety kicks in and you don’t need to over-eat. I can eat two large ones with dip – and that’s all I need for dinner! Not hungry for a bedtime snack or anything. (Which is something I seldom have, anyway.)
Mother loved the Catalina salad dressing for dipping. Until they reformulated it about 30 years ago to make it more sweet and more “appealing” to the public. We considered the change “appalling”. Artichokes simply got served less often once that happened. I did eventually do a Catalina Dressing Makeover. The dressing is also awesome with Mom’s grapefruit and avocado salad.
PS: The artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) is the flower bud of a plant in the thistle family. It originated in the Mediterranean region of the planet. The flower bud is considered to be high in healthy antioxidants.
Prep Time: 5 minutes.
Cook Time: 50 – 75 minutes, depending on artichoke size.
Rest Time: Not needed.
Serves: 2 for a complete meal, 1 as a side or early dish.
Cooking Artichokes the Simple Way
- 2 large artichokes per person. (As a side, just one per person.)
- Dipping sauce. Preferably a creamy yet mostly tangy salad dressing, one that remains emulsified.
Take each artichoke, and chop off the stem. Then chop off about a quarter inch of the bottom of the stem (it’s usually black). Save the stem and discard that bottom. (You are cutting off the stem to enable the body of the artichokes to stand upright in the steamer or in a pot.)
You can remove and discard the first one or two rounds of leaves at the base of the artichoke, as there is little “meat” there.
You can optionally slice off the top of the artichoke in order to remove most of the piercing needles. We never did. My brother and I never hurt ourselves more than once on those needles, even as young children. Nor did this turn us “off” of artichokes!
Place in a pot or steamer, bottom sides down, and add the stems anywhere. Add water – enough to steam , or enough to mostly cover the artichokes.
Set the pot or steamer to boil, and reduce water to a simmer. Cover loosely and cook for 50 – 75 minutes, depending on artichoke size. Reach in and test for done-ness – if a leaf not near the bottom pulls away easily, you are done.
You can make your own dressing – make something that has enough thickness that it adheres to the leaves rather than a vinaigrette which rolls right off. Or find a quality salad dressing that meets your needs – a bit of tang is seriously welcome here.
Sit down, make yourselves comfortable, and enjoy.
For the stalk: cut off the more fibrous parts of the cylinder, and eat the inside .
For the flower bud itself:
Pull off each leaf by hand, dip the base of the leaf into the dip, then scrape off the meat from the base between your teeth – the “cup” part of the teeth should be against your lower set of chompers. Go up as far as the meat goes – the leaves will get more tender and meaty as you go in.
Leaves will eventually get smaller, and you can eat nearly every part of those – except that pointy tip.
About the choke: Eventually, you’ll get to the center of the artichoke. There’s a fuzzy layer here, and some vestigial leaves arising from it. Using your spoon or your place setting knife, scrape out the fuzzies and discard. This stuff prickles badly going down – so don’t bother!
Below that is the heart, the ultimate prize! If you’ve only had them pickled from a jar, prepare for these to taste differently, and a whole world of good. I chop in half or quarters, and plunge them into the dipping sauce, to eat with a fork.
REGARDS BABY ARTICHOKES: Sometimes you find these sold in packages of say, six, and they are about 2 inches (5 cm) or so long, and very narrow. You can eat the chokes on these, and you can almost eat the entire artichoke – the leaves are mostly “meat” except the very tops. If you see those, they’re done simmering at about 20 minutes. I only prep those by chopping of that dark bottom of their stems, and I don’t mind them rolling around in the pot while cooking. Obviously, a lot more than a couple per person. Taste-wise, they are almost buttery. They tend not to be as easy to find in groceries.
Someday, someday, I will try stuffing an artichoke. But they’re so good this way, my resolve to try that has been to date sorely tested. And the resolve has come up lacking.
As it is now 2021:
Foodie/Fotografic goals (NOT RESOLUTIONS – there IS a difference) for 2021:
- February will be East Asian Recipes Month. Having the Asian New Year’s then is a stimulus for that.
- May will be Vegetarian/Vegan Recipes Month.
- Somewhere before May there will be an Impossible/Beyond/Pasture-Finished Beef taste test comparison. Probably not fair to the faux meat comparison, but I refuse to eat highly processed supermarket or fast food ground beef, comparing or not.
- There will be a number of more Greek recipes in the next few months. Dying to create! Still remains my favorite European cuisine.
- I am working on re-vamping this blog website. WordPress moved to new software, a “block” mode; and I’ve mostly stuck with Classic. I will always keep some aspects of Classic, but I would like to utilize a few or more of the new ideas. Unfortunately a lot of it is being a PITA, and certainly not self-explanatory or useful until I (hopefully) can learn more. Hey, I learned how to work the 1980s CP/M operating system back in the day of the mid-80s, you’d think this would be easily do-able as well????) You may see some bad or sad moves here at the blog until things settle down….
- Photography. Improving actual composition, photography itself, and post work. I will be the first to admit that if my food is going to get cold before the best photo is taken – sorry, dinner will STILL win. I am not being paid to be a “Food Stylist” after all. But, otherwise, I am going to UP my photography game. As well as in other arenas.
- Back in the mid to late 90s, I’d started a herbal website, focusing on medicinal uses and Medline results. That has been in severe hiatus for well over a decade – nearly two. The site still exists – but looks and pretty much is, totally awful, so I won’t get the links up for a few more months. (It will have its own domain.)
- I want my own farmstead to have its own website and domain – with content. I keep debating the “BEST NAME”, which is still highly annoying to me. Since it may be a few years before there are goats here, it won’t be called Goats and Greens. But the site will happen this year.
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