If you were to ask me what my favorite food is, I’d probably reply – without hesitation – that it is steamed artichokes with a bit of lemon butter for dipping. It’s rather interesting, especially since there are so many ways you can devour them, but so far for me this is the way to eat an artichoke.
Of the ways you can eat these flowers (yep, flowers), there’s the ever popular artichoke hearts, which I enjoy on a salad or in pasta. You can grill them, which gives them an interesting smoky flavor. Supposedly you can deep-fry them (of course, I grew up in the South where just about anything can be deep-fried), but I don’t think I’ve had them this way. Still, though, none of it measures up to steaming them and eating them one leaf at a time.
In selecting artichokes to steam, I personally feel that you have to find ones with a vibrant green color and they have to squeak a little when you squeeze them. I also prefer artichokes with pointy leaves that are not flat against the body of the flower. I’m not entirely sure of the true difference between these types of artichokes, but the ones I prefer seem to have heartier leaves, although it’s easier to poke yourself on their thorns.
Steamed Artichokes with Lemon Butter
- 1 – 2 fresh artichokes, rinsed well and damaged leaves removed
- 6 – 8 cups water
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh or from concentrate
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter, like Earth Balance
- Salt, to taste
Rinse the artichokes well and check in between the leaves to make sure you get out any debris (not a big deal if you don’t find or get it all), and remove any of the damaged leaves (usually the small leaves that are at the very bottom of the flower). I also like to trim the bottom of the stem off and peel off the outer layer of the stem with a knife (some people remove the stem altogether, but I like to eat this part as well).
You may also want to cut the top part of the leaves off so you won’t have any thorns sticking you as you eat. I’m too lazy for this, so I skip this step.
If you have a rice cooker that steams vegetables, you can steam the artichokes in here. Every steamer is different, but I tend to steam for about half an hour to about 45 minutes. To check, very carefully pull a leaf away from the body of the flower (I usually use tongs to ensure I won’t burn myself from the steam). If it pulls away easily, it’s probably done. To be doubly sure, taste test by seeing how easily the meat comes away from the leaf. It’s all a matter of preference, though, so you may need to cook for longer.
You can also boil or steam these on the stove.
We have a two-piece pot that can steam vegetables, so I put this on the stove at medium to high heat with about six cups of water, and covered the pot with a lid.
I checked the artichokes after about 20 to 30 minutes and I actually needed to add a couple more cups of water. Total cooking time for these was about 45 minutes.
As soon as the artichokes are done, you can quickly prepare your lemon butter. In a microwave safe dish put your lemon juice and butter, then cook in the microwave for about thirty seconds.
After the butter has melted add salt to taste. Then start dipping the leaves and scraping off the good stuff with your teeth. Yum.
Quick note, when you get down to the heart and the leaves are a lot more delicate, take a spoon and scrape out the remaining leaves, then you can eat the heart. Extra yum.
Not sure how to eat an artichoke? Here’s a quick video I found on YouTube that explains it! (I am a bit more generous with the lemon butter though.)
While I really haven’t, you can get pretty creative with dipping sauces. Some people like mayonnaise (Vegenaise!), hollandaise sauce (which I still have to try to make vegan-style), or garlic butter. I pretty much love the simplistic way I’ve been eating artichokes for the last few years, so I haven’t really tried anything else. I’m open to new ideas, though – anyone have any dips they love to have with their artichokes?