How Do You Eat That Vegetable? Artichokes.

Artichokes Vegetable Series:  When we changed our eating two years ago, I resolved to be afraid of no vegetable.  Not knowing how to cut it or cook it was NOT going to keep it out of my cart.  For a long time I’ve wanted to do a series of posts on all the different vegetables we have tried and what we do to the poor things.  May you, too, vow to try any and all vegetables in your supermarket!  Go get ’em, tiger.

Did you try a rutabaga?  Not yet?  Well, you’re going to get behind in this vegetable series!  Today we’re talking about trying an artichoke!

Just Steam ‘Em!

Now a fresh artichoke was new to me for sure!  Canned artichoke hearts?  Yes.  Artichoke and spinach dip?  Absolutely.  But never a fresh artichoke!  Once upon a time, my daughter and I  were shopping the produce aisle when the artichokes caught her young eye.  She began asking and begging me to buy some artichokes.  Here I am, The Vegetable Queen, making excuses to not buy those artichokes for her.  I don’t know what to do with them.  We may not like them.  They’ll go bad in the refrigerator before I figure out how to use them.  But my hypocrisy galled and sickened me, along with a smirking customer bystander who mockingly reassured me they were “quite easy to make…just steam them.”Steaming artichokes

So we bought those artichokes and we winged it!  I didn’t even look up how to make them or eat them.  I just steamed them like the good lady in the produce aisle said to do.  I’m going to tell you how we made them and ate them.  I don’t think it’s “the right way.”  But silly-sally on that.  The right way.  Pshaw.  Just get the blasted vegetable cooked.

I want you to know up front, artichokes are a process to eat–but in a good way.  Like a “family-popcorn-night” fun kind of way.  Not at all like broccoli or cauliflower where you slap it on the plate, get your fork out, and gobble it all up.  We have a lot of fun sitting around the kitchen table eating our artichokes as a family.  I hope you’ll give them a try!

Choose artichokes that are closed rather than open as they are fresher.  Also, don’t be afraid of purple markings which indicate that the artichoke received a bit of a frost in the field, which will make it more tender and flavorful.  (You can see those purple “blush” marks from frost on my photo up there.)

Steamed Artichokes

What you’ll need:

  • As many artichokes as you want.  I usually do one per person.
  • A mechanism to steam the artichokes.  I use a pot with a steamer basket and lid.
  • Oil of choice to dip the artichoke in.  Most people use butter, but we used olive oil.  Some use mayonnaise.
  • Salt to sprinkle or dip the artichoke in.

Wash artichokes.  Place artichokes (careful of any sharp spines that may prick you) in your steamer pot and steam for about 20-30 minutes.  You know they are done when you can pierce the base right above the stem easily with a fork or knife.  Allow to cool enough to handle and serve!

No cutting?

What?  No cutting?  No chopping off the tops?  No clipping the spines?  Nope.  Go ahead and do that if you want.  I don’t care.  But time is a premium commodity for me, and I’ll bet it is for you, too.  Since making these the first time, I have tried chopping the tops.  I noticed no difference with chopping the tops or not chopping the tops.  I have never clipped the spines on the leaves, although it looks really snazzy that way.  The spines soften up in the steaming process and cause no issues.  So I don’t clip those either.

(Note:  Most sites will tell you to cut off the top, trim the stems, pick off the lower hard petals, shear off the spiny tips of the petals, put some herbs in your steaming water, brush with lemon juice, and so on.  I know that may make them “better”–but what good is “better” if you never make them because that’s way too much work? And the kids love them this way–and so do my husband and I?)

So how do we eat them?

There are three parts to eat:

  • The creamy pulp at the end of each petal.
  • The artichoke heart.
  • Artichoke petalsThe stem, if you wish.

With an artichoke, you literally pull each petal off, one by one.  Dip the pulpy, whitish end of the petal in oil (or butter or mayonnaise) and sprinkle it with salt. Then, pull the end of the petal between your front teeth to scrape off the white, soft, creamy artichoke pulp.  Keep an empty plate in the middle of the table to put the artichoke refuse on.   Repeat this process until you get to the choke, a fuzzy-thistly topper to the artichoke heart.

The fuzzy choke (not edible) on top of the artichoke heart (deliciously edible).

The fuzzy choke (not edible) on top of the artichoke heart (deliciously edible).

Peeling the choke off of the artichoke heart.

Peeling the choke off of the artichoke heart.

At the choke part, you need to carefully separate the choke from the heart.  My kids always hand off their artichokes to me expectantly when it’s time for the choke to come off their artichoke.  I use a knife to carefully lift off the choke in one piece.  If it doesn’t separate well, I just use the knife to slice off the choke, but you lose a little of the delicious artichoke heart.  Whatever you do, don’t eat those thistly fuzzies.  They are not good.  Dip in oil and sprinkle with salt.

At this point, the great stuff is gone, but the top of the stem is often tasty and edible, too.  If not, and it’s too fibrous, your artichoke party is over.

The Lazy Answer:  I Don’t Know

Dr. Goulet, my intense and fierce general surgery staff doctor back in the day, always barked at us, “Don’t tell me ‘I don’t know.’  That’s a lazy answer.”  (Ow.  Trust me.  We learned to never say “I don’t know.”)  So don’t be lazy.  Don’t be cowardly.  It is JUST a vegetable.  Add to your vegetable repertoire!  Try artichokes, and then go back and try rutabagas!  I don’t care.  Try whatever you want, but break out of your spinach, carrot, and broccoli rut!  And don’t let “I don’t know how” ever be your ball and chain.


More in the “How Do You Eat That Vegetable?” series:



34 thoughts on “How Do You Eat That Vegetable? Artichokes.

  1. Samantha

    I feel much braver now! I am totally going to try this now! Isn’t silly how we handle plenty of tough things, but simple artichokes seem daunting at first?

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Absolutely true words!!! 🙂

      So glad you’re going to try! May they turn out delightful for you as they do for us! (And they do keep fairly well in the fridge, too, if for some reason the time you thought you had to steam and eat them doesn’t work out!)

      Warmest wishes for your week and health!

  2. andthreetogo

    I love artichokes! We always boiled them, but ate them them the same way you guys do. 🙂
    I always loved them with mayonnaise, what a way to make something healthy, unhealthy :-/

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      I wonder if most people from California eat them? I guess they’re about 100% from there!? Certain progressive health sites would say there’s nothing wrong with mayonnaise, except it has been violated by sugar and vegetable oil in the supermarkets! Mayo with just eggs and a good unprocessed oil (I use walnut oil or olive oil here lately) and spices is not so bad, they’d say. Something to think about (at least I think about it anyhow). 🙂

  3. The Vanilla Housewife

    I love vegetables! It’s the dip or the dressing that is killing me. I drown my green salad in thousand island. 😀 Also, I tricked my daughter into thinking that tomatoes are candies. Winning! 😀

  4. MikeW

    When I was a kid, my first attempt at artichokes was at a sibling supervised dinner. I ate the leaves whole. I could not understand why after 10 minutes of chewing, I was not making headway. Wish I’d read this back then!

  5. Julie

    Now, you know in the South a simple, healthy steamed veggie would never do. We either have to fry it or steam and then stuff it, as in the case of stuffed artichokes, a variation of the recipe my husband makes can be found here:

    That being said, I think I would like to try this simple, healthier version for a change!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Ach! You know I am painfully and deliciously aware of this occurrence. Living in the South is probably what tipped me over my edge with my GI tract and headaches. 🙂 If I hadn’t left there, I NEVER would have made a transition to better eating! The recipe looks wonderful and fun, but I’ll bet mine are on the kitchen table a lot faster. 🙂 Greetings to you and your family!

      1. Julie

        Haha! Don’t say that though … I will probably NEVER leave the South! Thus, I will still need to eat healthy and be surrounded by this delicious food! Yours definitely gets to the table faster, hands down…and is a lot more economical! (My dh has to buy the “best” ie. The most expensive cheeses, to stuff them with) I think if I were to just steam them, I would like the dipping in oil idea!

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        That’s what I do. Pour some on a plate and then sprinkle the oil with salt. Dip. The kids like butter, though, now that that has been reintroduced for them.

        Be sure to play “First one to the heart wins!” I won last night! 🙂

        The South is absolutely beautiful, and so is the food. Just hard on my body, for sure! I can’t stop thinking about a fine Romano cheese now all day! I would have been just like your husband!

      3. Julie

        That’s a good idea! (The game)

        My husband makes everything that is good for you, taste better for you … LOL! It is a doublesided coin. Bittersweet. Since he is a great cook, it’s harder to get him to settle for simplicity. However, we have won this battle in other areas. We will give this a try and see how he likes it! Maybe we will squeeze a little lemom juice onto them along with our Italian sourced extra virgin olive oil 😉

        I’m with the kids though…butter on anything makes it better (from grass fed cows, of course)…haha! Just tell them the truth that olive oil is the “butter” used in Italy… maybe they will venture out one day!
        LOVE your posts so much, by the way!

  6. Valerie

    Okay, this is brilliant, Terri! I love that you are exploring vegetables and sharing your findings with us (clueless) folks. I am terrible about trying new vegetables because I don’t know how to cook/eat them! 😛 Thanks for getting rid of that excuse for me!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      I was clueless, too! That’s our “job” as bloggers, right? To share what we (sometimes painfully, sometimes frustratingly, sometimes humorously, etc) learn–eh? LOL! Family artichoke night! Yippee!

  7. Nat Cowdell

    Thanks Terri- so glad you posted this 🙂 I like to think I eat a wide spectrum of veggies but artichokes have sadly never entered my kitchen! Time to change that!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      I know what you mean! Can’t remember if you are still “GAPping” it, but I am pretty sure these are GAPS legal. The other kind of artichoke is not, if I remember it all correctly. Anyhow, these remind me that food is an experience because you have to pluck the petals one by one and then get the heart freed up. Just enjoyable to eat with people you enjoy. Silly thought, I know. 🙂

  8. IrishMum

    I am not mad about artichokes. I have eaten them in high end restaurants when they are smothered in delicious sauces or stuffed, and taste divine, but not worth the price or effort for home cooking. Will you cook them regularly?

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      I never got to appreciate them in a fancy restaurant. And now, if I’m going to “break code” , I’d probably go for something else on the menu. 🙂 However, as my kids like to eat them at home, we eat them about, on average, once a month. The petals are just “time-killers” while we make conversation, but the hearts I really, really do like a lot! Sadly, so do the kids, so I never get more than the one I worked so hard for! 🙂

      1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        In about a thousand years of global warming on this vast tundra I feel like I live on called South Dakota! 🙂 I need to move to climate that can grow them, I know, I know!

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