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Artichokes are like the lobsters of the produce section—while it takes a bit of work to get past their tough armor, the tender meat within is so full of clean, earthy flavor that the effort is well worth it. Beyond being a total crowd-pleaser (and gameday mainstay) when drowned in a rich dip alongside a bowl of chips, this versatile veggie is equally tasty when served with nothing but a ramekin full of melted butter and a slice of lemon. Oh, and did we mention how happy you will be if you include artichoke hearts as a topping for your next sheet-pan pizza? Yep, we’re wild about these prickly oddballs...but we have to admit their appearance is a bit, erm, intimidating. Don’t reach for the canned kind just yet, though—here’s how to cook an artichoke so you can enjoy one in its freshest, tastiest form whenever the mood strikes.

how to prep an artichoke
McKensie Cordell

Prep Artichokes Properly

Prep work is half the battle when it comes to cooking artichokes, regardless of the method you choose. Before you start cooking those meaty green babies up, give ‘em a careful trim and wash. Here’s how food and culinary scientist Jessica Gavin breaks down the prep steps.

  1. Trim the artichoke by snipping off the spikey tip of the leaves. When cooked, the pokey parts go soft, but for the sake of aesthetics and your own confidence (i.e., so you’re not afraid of your own veg), this step is valuable. Then, peel away any baby leaves before proceeding to the next step.
  2. Now, trim some more: With a sharp butcher knife or large, serrated bread knife, slice off about ¾ of an inch from the top of the choke.
  3. Remove the stem entirely or give it a little grooming. Artichoke stems tend to be bitter, unlike the more delicate profile associated with the meaty leaves and heart. That said, the bitterness is most prominent in the outer layers of the stem. You can absolutely keep it on for an elegant presentation though. If you’d like to keep the stem intact, simply trim off a little from the tip, which is likely to be a tad tough and dry, before shaving down the remainder of the stem with a vegetable peeler. Going stemless? Lop off enough of it that your artichoke can stand upright, but without compromising the core.
  4. The artichoke should look less like a medieval weapon now, which means it’s ready to be washed. Head to the sink and rinse it under cold running water, while gently pulling apart the leaves to ensure the whole head is cleaned.

how to boil artichokes
McKensie Cordell

How to Boil Artichokes

Good news: Now that your artichoke has been prepped and washed, the rest is easy. (Phew!) According to Jessica Gavin, there are two go-to methods for cooking artichokes, and both are fairly foolproof. First up, boiling.

  1. Fill a large stock pot ⅔ full with water and add a couple tablespoons of kosher salt before bringing to a boil over high heat.
  2. Once the water has reached a rapid boil, carefully lower your artichoke into the pot.
  3. Cover the stock pot and reduce the heat so the water reaches and remains at a gentle simmer.
  4. Simmer the artichoke for 20 to 35 minutes, depending on its size. You will know the veg is ready to eat when its outer leaves are easy to remove from the base. If your artichoke doesn’t pass the doneness test, put it back into the water to simmer a little longer.
  5. Once the leaves have adequately softened and can be removed without great force, drain the artichoke and let it cool for 10 minutes, or until you can scrape the scrumptious meat off every leaf without burning your mouth.

how to steam artichokes

How to Steam Artichokes

Steaming a prepped artichoke is a piece of cake—just follow these simple steps for a consistently yummy outcome. Pro tip: Throw some aromatics into the boiling water—a crushed clove of garlic, a couple sprigs of thyme—for a steamed veggie centerpiece with extra oomph.

  1. Fill a large stock pot with 2-3 inches of water and add any aromatics you wish to include for extra flavor.
  2. Place artichokes in a steaming basket and attach to the pot before covering and bringing the liquid to a boil over heat.
  3. Once the water has reached a rolling boil, reduce to a simmer and cook the artichokes, covered, for about 25 to 35 minutes.
  4. When the artichoke’s leaves are so tender that they don’t require heavy tugging to remove, transfer the head to a plate to cool for several minutes. In the time it takes you to melt some butter (or whip up a hollandaise, if you’re feeling fancy) your feast will be ready.

See what we mean? Cooking an artichoke isn’t such a scary kitchen endeavor, after all.

RELATED: 3 Easy Artichoke Recipes Everyone Should Try

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