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What Is an Artichoke?
An artichoke is a cultivated, edible thistle formally known as a globe artichoke, or a French artichoke. Perched upon woody, thick stalks, artichokes are the plant’s flower buds, pre-bloom. A town in California calls itself “the Artichoke Capital of the World,” but Italians or Greeks might be able to say the same: they’re found in most places with a Mediterranean climate.
How to Buy Artichokes
Fresh artichokes are found whole, but canned artichoke hearts are also sold in jars, usually found alongside the pickles, olives, and hearts of palm at the grocery store. When purchasing them fresh, look for artichokes that are firm and silvery-green in color. They should feel heavy, with meaty leaves that aren’t dried out.
How to Prep Artichokes
Using a serrated knife, slice off the top inch or so of the artichoke. Trim the rest of the spiky tips with kitchen shears. Depending on how you’re cooking them, you can also trim the stem or slice them in half lengthwise. Rinse under cold water, separating the leaves gently to allow the water to pass through.
How to Eat Artichokes
If it’s your first time eating an artichoke, here are some things you should know: The bottom third of the tough outer leaves can be scraped with the teeth after a good dunk in melted butter—there’s a fair bit of meat there—but once the leaves become too flimsy, they can be removed in large clumps until the fuzzy choke is revealed. Use a spoon to gently scrape it away and get to the heart: a meaty, shallow cup that looks a bit like the center of a sunflower. Slice it and let it hang out in the remaining butter and lemon juice for a few moments, then enjoy.
4 Ways to Cook Artichokes
There are plenty of tasty ways to eat artichokes. Here are four classics:
- Stuffed artichokes (with breadcrumbs, cheese, and occasionally meat, like prosciutto or sausage) are also an Italian specialty.
- Grilled artichokes: The outer leaves and fuzzy choke (the unfurled bit that sits just above the heart) of baby artichokes are tender enough to be eaten; slice them in half lengthwise, brush with butter or olive oil and grill them until soft.
- Steamed artichokes: For a simple, set-it-and-forget-it classic, steam them in a large pot, and serve alongside melted butter.
- Braised artichokes: Chef Thomas Keller’s method for braising artichokes results in a classic recipe that can be served many ways.
Easy Roasted Artichoke RecipeEMAIL RECIPE
- 2 medium whole artichokes, or 4 baby artichokes
- 1 head garlic, sliced crosswise
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Aioli, fresh lemon, or melted butter, for serving
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Prep and clean artichokes, removing the toughest outer leaves and trimming the stem to 1 inch. Slice in half lengthwise and remove the fuzzy choke. Place artichokes, along with the garlic, in a large bowl, and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then toss to coat.
- Place artichokes and garlic cut side down on a baking sheet. Cook artichokes until tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 40 minutes.
- Serve with aioli (use the roasted garlic!) and quartered lemon, or a melted garlic-butter dipping sauce.
Learn more culinary techniques in Chef Thomas Keller’s MasterClass.