Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Artichokes! Glorious, Glorious Artichokes!

Artichokes are relatively new to me. Several years ago, I had my first spinach and artichoke dip. Eventually, I found a few recipes that included marinated artichoke hearts. But it wasn't so long ago that I had my very first whole, steamed artichoke that a friend made for me, and I fell in love.

Artichokes are in season from spring through fall. They're one of the messy foods, like crab legs, that you have to pick through but are worth all the work. After you steam them, you eat the meaty parts of the leaves, and pick off the spikey middle to reveal the artichoke heart, like the prize in a cereal box. Artichokes are candy to me, sweet and flavorful. Here's how I make them...


Take the uncooked artichokes and cut the top 1-2 inches off. Cut the pointy tips of each leaf off. Pull off any very small leaves off the base. Cut the stem off close to the bottom of the artichoke.

In a large pot, place 2 inches or so of water. Squeeze a quarter of a lemon or so into the water, and drop the lemon in. Add 2-3 crushed cloves of garlic, and bring to a boil. Put a veggie steamer into the pot, and place the artichokes in it, cover, and steam on medium-low for 40-45 minutes.

Near the end of the steaming time, melt some margarine or butter in a small sauce pan for dipping the leaves into. Add lemon juice if desired. Put the butter into a small bowl.

Artichoke after steaming:

To eat, pull each leaf off and dip into the butter sauce. Using your teeth, scrape the meaty part off of the bottom of each leaf, and throw away the rest of the leaf.

Eventually, you'll get down to leaves that have a purple tip, and those have thorns on the ends. Be careful. I still will eat the bottoms of most of those, but as you get more into the middle, it's easier just to pull them all off.

Once all of the purple leaves are removed, there is a layer that looks "fuzzy." You can pull off that entire layer (and discard) to expose the artichoke heart!

The heart is the prize you worked for! You can eat the rest.

Ahhhh glorious...

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