Artichokes. They are delicious. They are versatile. And their edible portions are so small compared to the effort it takes to get through the spiky exterior!
But like the first person who looked at an artichoke and thought, “I bet I can cook the tiny center of that armadillo-flower,” we are motivated artichoke consumers. The artichoke heart (and the leaves, if you’re into scraping vegetable pulp with your teeth—which, we are) is tender, creamy, and mild, but hardly flavorless. And getting to it is actually a simple 3-step process.
Here’s how it goes:
Remove the top and excess stem of the artichoke.
Trim away the tough outer leaves with a paring knife.
Scoop out the choke to finish cleaning the heart.
The hearts can be braised in butter, roasted, pan-fried, or even marinated and lightly pickled, like the ones you find at the olive bar. Toss the cooked artichokes in salads, on pizzas, or stirred into a silky risotto.
If you want to cook the artichoke whole, so you can get to those tasty leaves, remove the top and stem (step 1). Then use small kitchen shears to snip the spiky ends off each of the leaves.
From there, the artichoke is ready to be steamed, grilled (half it first), or stuffed with garlicky breadcrumbs like an Italian-American grandpa would.