Tips for Cooking Artichokes

Reader Contribution by Staff
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The following tips will help you make the most of your artichoke recipes. To learn more — oh so much more — about artichokes, check out the April/May issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

– Save the largest artichoke globes for grilling whole and stuffing,
medium artichokes for serving steamed and the babies for chilled salads and
antipasti or little fried treats.

– Artichokes can also be dried or pickled, and are especially tasty in ceviche.

– Don’t throw away the stalks. Peeled artichoke stalks are
almost as great as the hearts, and can be used in a variety of ways. For
example, try simmering them in butter and garlic until soft, or boil and puree
them to mix into mashed potatoes.

– Large artichokes can be pressure cooked in just 10 minutes
with 1 cup of water at 15 pounds of pressure. Smaller artichokes take just 6 to
8 minutes or so in the pressure cooker.

– Canned, brine-packed artichokes should be rinsed before use.

– Rubbing lemons on your raw artichokes will help to keep
them green, as will keeping them in a bowl of acidulated water until it’s time
to cook them. Don’t use aluminum or iron pans when cooking artichokes. Artichokes
try hard enough to get ugly on their own, but these pans will really cause them
to turn brown. If it’s important to you to eat bright green artichokes, you can
add plenty of dry white wine to the boiling or blanching liquid, which is what
restaurants do. But Andrew Carmellini, author of Urban Italian, says that’s too much fuss–and too expensive–for a
home kitchen. Why not just let them go khaki and get over it?

– Artichokes contain an acid called cynarin that makes other
foods, and especially wine, taste sweeter. Judith Jones, longtime cookbook
editor and author of My Life in Food,
thinks it’s best to serve plain water with artichokes, but the handy smart
phone app “What to Drink With What You Eat” (available via Itunes; Warning:
it’s addictive!) recommends higher-acid wines, such as dry rosés. Julia Child thinks it’s OK to enjoy
artichokes with a strong, dry, chilled white wine “if you must.” 

– Check out 100 Vegetables and Where They Came From by William Woys Weaver (available at Amazon.com) for a fascinating chapter about purple artichokes. 

Photo by Tim Nauman Photography