The ultimate taste of spring, artichokes are alluring and a little perplexing; their unique appearance makes it clear you can't treat artichokes like other vegetables. But let's make it clear; artichokes are versatile and can be prepared in myriad ways. From simply steamed to crisp and fried, stuffed and baked to poached in a flavor-boosting liquid, each technique offers something different for the palate.
To Steam or Not to Steam
The simplest method for preparing these spring beauties requires little more than a steamer basket set atop a few inches of boiling water and steaming, stem side up until a paring knife pierces the stem of the artichoke. Learning how to prepare an artichoke for cooking is a bit like learning how to ride a bike -- once you learn, you never forget. The meatiness at the bottom of the artichoke petals is the perfect complement to everything from simple melted butter and lemon slices to dipping sauces ranging from herb-infused butters and umami-laden vinaigrettes to addictive garlic aiolis or a rich hollandaise. Serve steamed artichokes as a delicious centerpiece to a light lunch, a fiber-rich side at dinner, or a special afternoon snack.
Fried and Habit-Forming
Like with most savory foods, frying produces a crisp, decadent vegetable that's impossible to resist. Baby artichokes are ideal for frying; they require less time to cook and they call for less prep overall due to their lack of the inedible hairy choke found in the centers of standard-size artichokes. Larger globe artichokes also take well to frying, they are Martha's favorite!
Braised Until Tender
The mild taste of artichokes makes them ideal for braising in flavorful cooking liquids, which also gives the petals of the artichoke a silky texture and renders the heart fork-tender. Similar to with frying, baby artichokes braise faster than standard-sized artichokes. When braising larger artichokes, halving or even quartering the prepped artichokes will cut down on cooking time. Browning the artichokes first before adding the braising liquid adds an extra dimension of flavor. While make for an easy and delicious side, this cooking technique is also makes for a delicious one-pot dinner.
Baked, Roasted, Delicious
Oven heat intensifies thevibrant spring flavor of artichokes. Dress them up with olive oil and basic seasonings for an easy roasted side or try topping with a savory breadcrumb mixture before baking for a dinner party-worthy dish. Thinly sliced artichoke hearts are a welcome addition to a baked casserole. Roasted artichokes can easily be transformed into an antipasto.
Grilled for Good
The grill adds a rich, smoky flavor to artichokes, an excellent complement to their fresh spring flavor. It’s best to blanch or steam the artichoke before, so that it’s cooked thoroughly and only needs the few minutes to char its tender exterior leaves. Eat them as is or slice a grilled artichoke thinly for a most delicious topping on sandwiches, salads, or pizzas.
Watch how to prepare globe and baby artichokes, how to steam, and how to eat an artichoke: