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Back to the Basics with Artichoke

May 22, 2010
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I know I’ve been away for a bit, but I have a good excuse: I’ve been sick.  Not so sick that I think it might be the end, just enough that I knew that if I missed 10 seconds of sleep I would cross that line and get that sick.

So, I have been taking advantage of sleep every second I can.  I actually showed up to work 15 minutes one morning and took a 14 minute nap in the car…I’m not kidding!

Okay, so now I am well rested and ready to get some posts updated.  It’s starting to be artichoke season.  Oh who am I kidding, in my house it’s artichoke season ALL   YEAR    LONG!  As long as I can find an artichoke, I will make it.

I grew up loving artichoke.  I am married to a man who HATES artichoke.  Seriously?  Who hates artichoke?  How did I marry a man like that?  I can overlook that downfall for one reason: that means more artichoke for me!

Yep, I get to have an ENTIRE ARTICHOKE all   by   myself!  SO worth marrying him 😉

I don’t know many people who don’t like artichoke in some form, but I love just munching and eating it.  I usually make it as a meal for myself; or I have even been known to prepare an artichoke just to sit and watch a movie munching on it instead of a bowl of popcorn.

So, do you want to know how to make one of these?  It is SO simple!

First, take your artichoke:

Cut that stem off to just below where the leaves meet.  If you go any higher, leaves will fall off willy-nilly:

Then, cut off the top.  I usually go about 1/2 an inch into the third row of leaves:

You basically want to get to about where the top of the inner leaves begin:

It’s an art that just takes a bit of trial and error.  If you go too far down, it won’t hurt anything.  If you don’t go far enough, it may just take a bit longer for the inside to get perfect, but still no harm.

Next, take a small pot and fill about 1-2 inches of water:

I like my small pot for just one because it fits it perfectly, but you can go bigger if necessary. If you are doing more than one, then you definitely need a bigger pot, but still only 1-2 inches of water:

Some people like to put lemon slices in or garlic or something, not me.  I just like to steam it plain.  Put the lid on:

And let it steam on LOW heat for a while…a LONG WHILE!  It usually takes about 30-40 minutes to get it perfect, just keep checking on it.  It will depend on the exact type, how tight the leaves are, how big it is, etc…

It’s ready when you can gently tug an outside leaf and it comes right off:

I use tongs for this because I am a wimp when it comes to hot things, but it works.  Oh, you also might just need to test that leaf to make sure that all that yummy meat comes off easily:

Once it’s done, carefully remove and put it in a shallow bowl.  I like a small bowl where it’s easy to get the leaves, but it’s not going to roll around on me:

Now, onto what to dip it in.  Really, artichokes are good and healthy on their own; but we all know it’s about dipping it in melted butter with garlic, right?  Well, there goes the health part of it right down the drain.

I’ve also known people who will use mayo to dip it in…again, probably not the healthiest.

My favorite way, lately, isn’t 100% healthy, but healthier than the other two options:

First, put about 2 TBS of olive oil in a dish:

Add 1TBS of white wine vinegar (I’ve also used red wine vinegar, but I draw the line at any other kind of vinegar, it just doesn’t work):

Then add 1TBS of mustard, I like to use dijon, but it works with plain mustard as well:

Then, add a healthy sprinkling of Italian Seasoning:

Now comes the hard part (no seriously, it takes some work here).  Get a fork and whisk that concotion until it is all well blended:

You shoule NOT see a seperation at all of oil vinegar and mustard.  It should look like one cohesive mixture:

I’m telling you, it does take time, just keep working at it and eventually it will come together.  It generally takes me a good 5 minutes of constant work before it comes together perfectly.

Now, eat your way around all the leaves.  Dipping, scraping off the meat.  When you get to the inner leaves, sometimes I just dip those and bite the ends right off.

After a LONG while, you’ll get down to the last layer of inner leaves:

Right under there is a whole bunch of fibers (prickly and pointy and undigestible).  DO NOT EAT THOSE!

You are now at the heart of this beautiful vegetable.  But, you have to work for it a bit.  Get a sharp knife, insert it at a downward angle just under the fibers that are there:

Again, if you’ve never done this, it’s an art.  Even now, sometimes I cut too low, forcing myself to then go back and shave off some of that delectable meat.  Other times, I don’t angle enough and end up having to shave off some of those fibers.

It’s no fun, but it’s worth it.  So, pop off that cap you just cut out:

Discard the top, you won’t be eating that.  Now, personally, I like to take that heart and cut it up into bit-sized pieces:

Then, I take those pieces and toss them into my dipping bowl with the remainder of my sauce:

Oh so good!

When I eat artichoke, I also have a trash bowl right next to me to deposit all my leaves.  Don’t forget this.  Very important!

Now, what are you waiting for.  Go and get yourself some artichoke and make a meal!  But first, you might have to fight me for them.

Have you ever made artichoke?  What’s your favorite sauce for dipping?  Share!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 23, 2010 9:08 am

    Where were you last year when I attempted my first artichoke? It was okay, I don’t think I cooked it long enough. Well, now I’ll know where to look, thanks!

  2. May 23, 2010 9:14 am

    Don’t give up! Try it again this year! I usually just put it in first before I even start prepping anything else for the meal. Put it on a back burner on low and let it do it’s thing while you chop, mix, and cook everything else.

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