Have you ever had or heard artichoke? It may be a new word to some, if not most. That means you only need to increase your vegetable vocabulary and flavor with spice your meals at the same time with veggies from various countries.
You ought to be venturesome about vegetables or do you get by with the same old standbys of carrots and cabbages. So, if you were not aware, artichoke is a vegetable that has not only been around but also pleasing people for centuries. It is in the thistle family of plants. Just as a rose, it may hurt you if you don’t learn its proper handling – it is surrounded by fuzzy “spines.” Before you eat, steam the artichoke; then pull off its leaves one by one. To make it even sweeter, dip their bottom into a butter sauce and skim off the succulent part by pulling them in between your teeth.
How to Steam Artichokes without A Steamer Basket
It is not a guarantee that you’ll always have a steamer basket with you for cooking. Does it mean you will not steam your artichoke? ‘Of course, no.’ Incorporating the use of a rack becomes a necessity that would be useful.
1. Prepare your artichokes for steaming by: Rinse artichokes using clean running water. Remove the outer leaves since they are stiff. Cut off the base stems. Cut ½-1 inch off the artichokes’ tops. Chop off the thorns from the remaining exterior leaves using kitchen shears or scissors. Slide halved-lemon on the cut surfaces to retain color. Then dip whole in squeezed lemon juice in a bowl.
2. Add 1-2 inches of water in a large pot. The water should be precisely below the top of the rack.
3. Put your artichokes on the rack with the top parts touching down.
4. Cover your pot with a tight-fitting lid and let the water boil over medium-high heat for 30-50 minutes. (The time depends on the sizes of the artichokes). When ready, a knife or fork can easily pierce through the artichoke’s bottom.
5. Remove from the pot, allow them to cool a bit, and then serve.
How to Cook Artichokes in Oven
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees-375 degrees Fahrenheit. (180 degrees-190 degrees Celsius).
2. Place the washed, snipped artichokes in a baking dish and dress with salt to taste, diced garlic, and ingredients of your choice.
3. Add 1 inch of water in the baking dish.
4. Cover it with a piece of aluminum foil.
5. Steam for 50-60 minutes or until they become tender such that it is easy to pierce through with a knife or fork.
6. Remove from your oven and allow cooling before removing the foil.
This method tends to have a bit of drying effect; hence you need to use newly obtained artichokes to avoid them being hard.
Otherwise, the result is satisfying. The artichokes’ leaves are moist, meaty, and very tender. On top of that, the strong flavor is just irresistible.
How to Cook Artichokes in the Microwave
1. Wash the prepared artichokes with clean running water.
2. Add about ½ inch or two tablespoons of water in a microwave-safe casserole. Add squeezed lemon juice for the preservation of the fresh green color of the artichokes and also for its deep flavor too.
3. Put the artichokes in the dish with the end of the stem facing upwards.
4. Cover with a tight-fitting lid or plastic wrap to trap steam in the dish.
5. Microwave over high heat for 6-13 minutes or until the leaves easily pull out. Turn them over if not entirely done and heat once more until they thoroughly cook.
6. Remove them from the microwave; allow cooling for a few minutes before serving while still warm.
A variety of ideas can be employed to add additional flavor to freshly cooked artichokes.
• Serve them in the cooking liquid and add margarine, butter, or bacon slices.
• Pour lemon juice, garlic juice, lemon wedges, chili sauce, and grated cheese.
• Sprinkle bacon bits, toasted almonds, or even chopped scrambled eggs.
How to Steam Artichokes on a Stove Top
1. Add a small amount of water (almost 2 inches) into a large pot. Insert a filter such that the water rests below it.
2. Place the artichokes on the strainer arranged evenly with the stem up.
3. Cover the pot with a lid and heat over high heat and steam for 30-50 minutes. The time varies according to the size and amount of the artichokes.
4. Once they are ready, the artichokes tend to be tender. Use a fork or knife to check for doneness.
5. Remove from the pot and serve after they have cooled a bit.
For additional flavor, you may add squeezed lemon juice and salt to taste in your water and let it boil together. The lemon also helps to prevent discoloration of the green color of the artichokes.
This method is somehow as quick as using a microwave, but the latter is faster.
Artichokes are medicine to your body and have a long history for centuries for this purpose. They have so many benefits, including for the liver. They contain compounds – silymarin and cynarin, which are helpful for this organ. Also, they improve digestion; they are suitable for the microbiomes, with plenty of bacteria for the guts.
They have a high rate of respiration, and so they need to be cooked quickly. There are many ways of cooking them, i.e., boiling, baking, roasting, cooking by steam, etc. among other methods. It would be best if you steam the artichoke as it is thrice more nutritious as compared to a process such as boiling.
After cooking, you can always dip them in sauces and butter for extra flavor. Fresh artichokes also make an excellent pizza topping with a touch of some cheese and diced onions. No one can stop you from devouring the taste of both the leaves and the hearts.