All Choked Up: How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke

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Photo By Tim Nauman
From the savory leaves to the succulent center, we love everything the artichoke has to offer.

A steamed artichoke makes a luscious meal for one. With a little prep and plenty of butter, you can savor the simplicity.

1 artichoke
1 lemon
2 (or more–no one’s watching) tablespoons of butter

How to Cook an Artichoke

1. You only want the best, so get rid of the rest–tear off the tough outer leaves, and cut off the stem. Lay the artichoke on its side, and slice off about an inch from the top. Use kitchen scissors to snip off the sharp tip of each leaf.

2. You want it pretty. Rub the artichoke all over with half a lemon, cut side down, to keep it sprightly and green.

3. Drop the trimmed artichoke into boiling water, or set it upside down in a steamer tray. Boil or steam it until a knife slides easily into the cut-stem end or until a leaf pulls off easily, about 30 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, read a couple of chapters from the book you’ve been neglecting on your nightstand. Do some stretches. Then set a beautiful table with your favorite dishes: one fork, one small plate, one soup bowl and one small ramekin…all for yourself.

How to Eat an Artichoke

1. Squeeze the other half of your lemon into a couple of tablespoons of melted butter in the ramekin.

2. Set the artichoke flat-side down on your plate, and begin to pull off one leaf at a time. Dip the meaty end of the leaf in lemon butter, and s-l-o-w-l-y scrape the meat off with your teeth. Mmmmmmm. Toss the relished leaves in the bowl.

3. Notice how each leaf gets better and better as you get closer to the heart. Yum!

4. Observe your satisfyingly tall mound of discarded leaves. It’s OK now to begin to remember how good eating this artichoke has been.

5. When you see the furry-looking purple “choke,” slow down even more. This little defense mechanism has been designed to keep you from getting to the really good part. But you know better! With the side of a fork, scrape off the choke and add it to your pile of artichoke remains. You have tamed this beast.

6. Slice through the heart with your fork, breaking it into big chunks. Drop each one into the butter. Wait, what? You ate all the butter already? Melt some more! Then drop your little broken heart into it, and let it soak while you think about how good it’s about to get.

7. Savor the last few bites.

8. Consider: Is this one of the most satisfying three-ingredient solo meals you’ve ever had?

Stuffed Artichokes

For an even more decadent dish, stuff and bake your artichoke. Experiment with your favorite flavors, or use whatever’s on hand.

• Start with a small handful of breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and pepper, then add diced anchovies, herbs, garlic, lemon zest, nuts, olives, onions and/or tomatoes. Combine the mixture with your hands and a touch of olive oil to help it stick.

• After trimming the artichokes and rubbing them with lemon, gently pull the leaves a little bit away from the center all the way around, and set in a baking dish. Pack the stuffing into all the empty spaces, and tent the pan with aluminum foil. Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour, or until a leaf  pulls away easily. Remove foil, top each artichoke with grated hard cheese, then broil for a couple of minutes and serve immediately.

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