I’m often asked how to cook artichokes. I grew up mostly in California and we ate a lot of artichokes. I only remember my mom boiling them in water and serving with mayonnaise and lemon juice, which is still a favorite of mine.
We love artichokes–so much so that I have 3 plants of my own. Oh, actually 4 now but the new one won’t produce until next year if it survives in the chicken yard. (My experiment to see what can survive there! So far squash and pumpkin plants do well as long as I protect them when they are little and line stones around the plant so the hens can’t scratch right at the base.)
I grew up eating artichokes prepared very similarly to this. I think the garlic clove is my addition. But I could be wrong. I’ve been cooking them this way for so long I don’t even remember. I like to cook them ahead of time and serve them cold, or at least cool/room temperature.
How to Prep Artichokes
Artichokes will discolor once you cut them open. Rubbing lemon juice on the exposed flesh keeps the discoloration to a minimum.
- Fill a bowl with water and squeeze the juice out of a lemon into the water, then drop the pieces of the lemon the water.
- Take each artichoke and pull off any outer leaves that are separating from the choke. If you’re going to use the whole artichoke, you want to remove more of the outer leaves, down to where the leaves are light green not dark green. If you’re going to boil the or steam the artichoke, then bite on the leaves to pull off the flesh you can trim them a bit less.
- Then trim the top third of the pointy leaves off. Just lay it on its side and slice down so you end up with a flat top.
- Cut the stem end off just a bit up into the artichoke. Or if you want to eat the stem (they’re edible too!), use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to trim the stems.
- Rub each cut part with a lemon half and put it into the bowl of water.
How to Cook Artichokes in Boiling Water
This is how I grew up eating artichokes, pulling them apart at the table and dipping the ends into a sauce until you got down to the heart.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil.
- Drop the rest of the lemon into the water and add a peeled clove of garlic. This does not make your artichokes garlicky but does add a nice flavor. I miss it when I skip this step. You can also add a bay leaf if you’d like.
- Cook 10-25 minutes or so, partially covered, at a simmer. The time will depend on the size and freshness of the artichokes. Poke the bottom end with a fork to check for doneness. The fork should go in easily but not so easily that the whole artichoke falls apart!
- Drain the whole pot then drain the artichokes upside down on a plate to get as much water out as possible. Serve or refrigerate.
We like ours with a dipping sauce of mayonnaise and lemon juice. Lots of lemon juice. Other people like melted butter I hear… We eat them down to the choke, dipping each leaf into the sauce and biting off the end. Then remove the choke, the stickery part with a knife so you’re left with the heart (bottom) to eat.
How to Grill Artichokes
This is my new favorite way to cook artichokes. I trim the artichokes a bit more thoroughly, making sure to remove the tough leaves so you can eat the whole thing. I also cut the artichokes in half lengthwise and use a grapefruit spoon to remove the choke.
- Preheat your grill to a medium temperature, then turn down to medium low after cleaning off your grill basket. Preheat your grill basket or tray (something so the artichokes won’t fall through the grate).
- When you’re ready to cook, drain the artichokes well and drizzle with some olive oil, tossing the artichokes around to get coated lightly with oil. Salt lightly.
- Grill about 20 minutes, turning periodically, until cooked through.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
The grilled artichokes are good plain, with just the salt and oil but they’re fantastic with a bit of vinaigrette poured into the center or as part of a simple green salad.
I’ve branched out and now have several other artichokes recipes. I’ve marinated baby ones, added them to pasta along with some bacon or chicken, and cooked a gratin of them with sliced potatoes. All are delicious!