Phew—who’s ready for a break and some easy cooking? I know I am. As I mentioned in this post about broiled asparagus, spring came along just in time for me this year. I’ve been busting my booty over my recently launched beginning sewing e-book for the last couple of months, so anything that tasted delicious and and fresh without a whole lot of time and effort in the kitchen was a major bonus. We’ve eaten a lot of artichokes this spring.
I love artichokes. That time of spring when they appear at our CSA farm store, tiny and fresh and beautiful in their variations, would get me excited whether or not I needed some easy food options. So we’ve eaten a lot of them, practically one every day for a while there. I also wasn’t running to the store unless absolutely necessary, so I did some experimenting with what I added and how I cooked them. Considering how cool this spring has been in many parts of the country, I’m hoping their are still some artichokes available near you!
Simply Delicious Artichokes
- Rinse the your artichokes and trim the stems flush with the bottoms. I don’t trim any of the leaves. Especially when they are small and fresh, I like to leave on each possible delicious morsel. My mom cooks the stems along with the rest, but I find they are often somewhat bitter.
- Put the artichokes in a pot in a single layer. Use a pressure cooker if you have one (more about that below). Either put the artichokes stem side down in the pan and add about 1/2″ of water around them, or put them in a steamer basket with either the top or the stem up and add water below. I haven’t found any difference in how they come out with any of those methods.
- Optional: add a drizzle of olive oil on top. It doesn’t change the flavor very much, but it does the usual jobs of added oil: making sure that the artichokes don’t dry out and adding a little smoothness to the taste.
- Optional: add a drizzle of lemon juice. This doesn’t change the flavor much either, but without it the water left in the pot turns an amazing dark green color which could stain your cookware. However, I cooked a bunch without any lemon and they came out fine.
- Put the lid on the pot and cook until the leaves are tender. Pull one out from somewhere in the middle, and pull the base of the leaf off with your teeth to see if it’s tender. It’s hard to overcook them. I knew they were taking a while to cook on my stove, but I didn’t realize how long until I started keeping track for this post. It was anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half! So then I did what should have been obvious, at least at high altitude, got out the pressure cooker. 15 minutes later (12 minutes at high pressure plus warm-up and cool-down) I had cooked artichokes!
Ok, you knew I was going to say this, right? But it’s no joke, artichokes are totally delicious with crème frâiche! And possibly even more delicious with just a bit of good quality balsamic vinegar on top, so that each leaf you dip gets some of each. If you’ve never eaten one before, there are illustrated directions here, among other places. I may have to try a clove garlic in the water next time I make them. But I bet the flavor of the artichokes themselves will still be my favorite part. (By the way, they contain a chemical that can change your perception of other flavors, so beware of eating them with your best wine.) Enjoy!