Thorny green artichokes can be daunting to someone whose never eaten one before. They look almost inedible, but they are delicious and fun to eat. They are also healthy and easy to prepare.
When most people think of artichokes, they think only of the hearts that come in jars. Sure, those are good, but that is missing the best part of the vegetable. The best part is the ritual of scraping their buttery flesh from the thick leaves with your bottom teeth.
You’ll need a sauce pan with a double boiler and a lid, or some other method of steaming, scissors, a knife, a spoon and a few plates and bowls.
Here is a guide to help you prepare your first artichoke:
- Choose and artichoke that have tight, green leaves, as opposed to one with opened leaves that are browning.
- Wash the artichoke. Let the water run into the leaves and dump it back out.
- With a pair of scissors, cut the thorns from the top of the leaves by removing approximately 1/4 of an inch from each leaf. The thorns can range from not there at all to quite nasty.
- Remove all but a very small part of the stem.
- In a double boiler, place the artichoke stem-side up, cover and steam for about 50 minutes.
- Artichokes are delicious on their own, but while the artichoke is steaming, you may wish to prepare a sauce. (While not vegan, my sauce suggestion for artichoke is half hollandaise sauce and half mayonnaise, with a squirt of lemon juice.)
- To check if the artichoke is done, remove a leaf. It should tear away easily.
The ritual of eating an artichoke:
- Starting near the stem, tear off a leaf.
- Turn the leaf so the inside is face down, and you are holding the end where the thorn used to be.
- Dip the other end into the sauce of your choice.
- Scrape the flesh off with your bottom teeth.
- Repeat until the leaves become thin and thorny.
- At this point, use the spoon to scrape away the thin leaves and all of the hair (yes hair!). The fleshy bit under the hair is the heart and can be scraped out and eaten.
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons by magpie-moon