Unless you grew up eating artichokes you may not know how to make them.... let alone eat them! I realized this when my husband didn't really know what to do with it when I first served him one. I grew up eating artichokes, my mom made them in her old pressure cooker. I just remember her telling me never to get near that pressure cooker on the stove. I always saw that thing on top wiggling, steam pouring out...and went the other direction... all I knew was "it could blow up"! It scared me, so I wasn't too excited to cook artichokes because I always thought it was hard, or dangerous. Well, now I make them all the time and it's actually quite easy. They are probably my favorite vegetable... and now that I make my own olive oil mayonnaise, I can still be healthy!
Some may think, if they've had canned or jarred artichoke hearts, they've had artichokes. This is not accurate in my opinion. I personally am not a huge fan of hearts in a can or jar, they taste totally different. The heart of a homemade artichoke is so delicious, to me, it's the "candy" of vegetables... that's the only way I can think to describe it, it's that good.
You want to pick out one that isn't too soft, it shouldn't give too much when you squeeze it. Wash them under running water and let the water run through the leaves to rinse it. Shake out the excess water. Careful not to prick yourself, the leaves have thorns! See, more danger! Trim the bottom stem so it's flush with the bottom. This is where you have options.... you can leave it as is and cook it just like that. I trim off the whole top portion of the leaves with a very sharp knife, it takes some elbow grease to cut! I then cut them in half, down the middle like this....
I do this, because they fit in my steamer better. It's hard to fit two whole artichokes in my Black & Decker Steamer, so this helps. At this point some people will "clean out" the furry part inside... the part that sits on top of the heart. I have tried this and find it difficult to do on raw artichokes. Just my opinion... I prefer to do it after they are cooked when they are softer. You can also clip the tips of the leaves off so all the thorns are gone... this also makes them look pretty fancy. If you do this, use scissors, it's quick and easy.
There are many ways to cook artichokes: steamer, boil them, pressure cooker, oven, grill... I would recommend steaming them or using a pressure cooker. Mostly because that's what I'm familiar with and I know it works well. My steamer is super easy to use, it looks like this...I've had it for many years.
I fill the bottom section with water, on top of that goes the drip tray... which can hold seasonings on the screen which gives flavor to what you're steaming... I usually will put a lemon wedge. :)
You put on the tray with the artichokes in it, put the lid on, and set it for one hour! That's it! Careful removing the lid as the condensation will drip and it's hot. They come out looking like this...
Usually, I'm done at this point. Ready to eat! But when I made these particular artichokes, I was making BBQ'd chicken tenders with them so my husband had the grill on! Bonus!! I drizzled olive oil on the cut sides, a little seasoning, and he put them cut side down on the BBQ. Remember they are cooked, so just get some nice grill marks on them and they're good to go... that's how the restaurants get them SO good.
They turned out amazing, my husband raved about them... another Paleo success!! Oh, and in case you're really new to these... don't eat the entire leaves; don't eat the furry insides either! The first couple of times my husband ate these I had to tell him what parts he could eat and could not eat. :) My advice... try artichokes with people who know how to eat them so they can teach you! :) You'll like the experience better, I promise! Squeeze some lemon on them, it's great. I always have to dip my leaves in mayo... but melted butter is common too.
See, not so scary! I hope you try making artichokes if you've never tried them before... they are my favorite. They are even great cold the next day. If you have any ways of cooking them or serving them that are different than what I know... I'd LOVE to hear from you! Enjoy!