The arrival of spring means the arrival of artichokes. Whether you steam them, grill them or pop them in the Instant Pot, they will make a delicious seasonal side dish to serve alongside almost any main dish. If you are a novice in the art of artichoke cooking, no worries! You are in the right place. Here are my favorite Three Ways to Cook Artichokes.
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My neighbor grows artichokes in wine barrels right in her front yard. I check on them every morning on my walk. Yesterday I snapped this photo which shows that she has several beauties that are almost ready to pick! I must admit I am a little jealous. This may surprise you, but artichokes are actually flowers that haven’t bloomed yet. They are a variety of thistle related to the sunflower, and while botanically they are a flower the artichoke is considered a vegetable. One plant can produce up to 20 artichokes a year, which is fabulous because they rank number one over all other vegetables when it comes to antioxidant levels, including anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Of course, you don’t have to grow your own to enjoy them, the grocery shelves are very well stocked right now. California produces 100% of the United States artichoke crop, with Castroville California calling itself the “Artichoke Center of the World.”
Let’s Get to The Heart of The Matter
There are essentially three parts to the actual artichoke: the petals, the choke, and the heart. When cooked the outer petals of the artichoke become so tender you simply pluck, dip in melted butter, mayo or aioli and then use your teeth to scrape the ‘meat’ off the petal. The choke (those purple leaves and the fuzzy soft thistles below) is inedible. The “heart” is the found just below the ‘choke’ and is the the big reward! Once you have eaten the leaves, you use a spoon to scoop out the choke, revealing the soft creamy heart. Drizzle with butter and it’s heaven on earth I tell you!
To Trim or Not to Trim?
If you’ve ever reached for a raw artichoke and gotten pricked by the thorns on the end of artichoke petals, you know it’s not fun. That said, trimming of those sharp little tips before cooking is optional. To be completely transparent, I only do it if we are entertaining guests, otherwise I leave them as is. Once cooked they soften and become less of a bother. If you do choose to trim the ends, simply use kitchen scissors, trimming the outer leaves first and working your way to the top.
How to Steam Artichokes:
The simplest way to cook artichokes is to steam them in a pot of water on the cooktop. I always trim the stem off the bottom of the artichoke so it can sit flat in the pot. Once the artichokes are in the pot, I fill with a few inches of water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and place the lid on the pot. It’s important to check the water level frequently to make sure it doesn’t completely evaporate. If desired, you can add lemon slices to the water, as this prevents browning. You know the artichoke is done when you can easily pluck a leaf off or slide a knife into the bottom easily. The amount of time taken will depend on the pot you are using, the size of the artichoke, how many artichokes you place in the pot and the intensity of you simmer. In my experience it usually takes between 40-60 minutes, but on occasion when cooking very large artichokes we have had it take as long as 80 minutes. (Full printable recipe below)
How to Grill Artichokes:
Grilling artichokes is very easy as well! You simply steam the artichokes as directed above, allow them to cool enough to be handled, cut them in half lengthwise, brush with olive oil and place on the grill next to whatever you are cooking. You cook them long enough to establish some beautiful grill marks and then remove them. Yup, it’s that easy! Another perk, let’s say you’re having a party and want to grill artichokes for your guests, you can steam them early in the day and then place them in the fridge, when you are ready to grill you can pull them out and prep as discussed above and pop them on the grill. No no fuss, no mess, no stress! (Full printable recipe below)
How To Cook Artichokes in the Instant Pot!
When it comes to speed, the Instant Pot is where it’s at! If you haven’t already heard, the Instant Pot is the most versatile small appliance ever. It takes the place of a rice cooker, a pressure cooker, a steamer and a crock pot! It makes everything from eggs, rice and oatmeal to pulled pork, ribs and chicken broth (broth in 30 minutes without making your house smell like soup!) It’s really quite an amazing little machine. But let’s discuss the pros and cons of cooking artichokes in the IP. (Full printable recipe below)
- Pressure cooking artichokes takes 30-40 minutes off the cooking time! Yep, you can cook artichokes in the Instant Pot in 5-15 minutes depending on the size of the artichoke. That said, you have to allow 10-15 minutes for the pressure to build in the pressure cooker so add that time to cooking time.
- You don’t have to monitor the water to make sure it doesn’t evaporate like you do with the cooktop method.
- The Instant Pot will keep the artichokes warm until you are ready to serve.
- There is a little bit of guess work when it comes to timing. Since you can’t simply pluck a petal or insert a knife into the bottom of the artichoke to see if it’s done, you’ll need to estimate the cooking time. Smaller artichokes take less time than larger artichokes. The good news is, you’ll soon master the estimate game! It’s really not hard and I give you tips below.
More Artichoke Recipes!
Recipe: Three Ways to Cook Artichokes
Learn how easy it is to steam, grill or cook artichokes in the Instant Pot!
- Desired number of artichokes
- 1/2 a lemon, sliced
- filtered water
- choice of melted butter, mayo, or aioli for dipping
Cut off the artichoke stems (and trim leaves if desired). Choose a pot that easily accommodates the number and size of artichokes you wish to make. Place artichokes in pot, flat bottom down, then fill the pot until water is about half way up the artichokes. Add lemon slices to water. Bring water to a boil, lower to a simmer and place lid on pot. Small artichokes will cook in about 40 minutes, medium 50-60 minutes, large 60-70 minutes. Check the water level occasionally to make sure water doesn't evaporate, You know the artichokes are done when you can easily pluck a leaf off or easily insert a knife into the bottom of the artichoke. Do not overcook. Remove from pot and serve with your choice of melted butter, mayo or aioli for dipping.
First: steam or make artichokes in the Instant Pot as direct above and below. Remove from water when done and allow to cool until artichokes can be handled easily. Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise, brush the cut side with olive oil and place on a heated grill flat side down, next to whatever meat you are cooking. Cook until grill marks form. Use tongs to angle artichoke a quarter turn so you get those diagonal grill marks. Remove from pot and serve with your choice of melted butter, mayo or aioli for dipping. Notes: If grilling artichokes by themselves, I set the heat at 400 degrees. Also, if having a party and want to prep ahead, you can steam the artichokes earlier in the day, keep in the fridge and then prep and pop on the grill when ready.
An Instant Pot usually accommodates two medium/large artichokes or three small artichokes. Cut off the artichoke stems so the bottom is flat (trim leaves if desired.)
Add 1 cup water and lemon slices to Instant Pot, insert the steaming rack. Place artichokes on rack flat side down.
Make sure that the release valve is in the "Sealing" position, then place lid on Instant pot, turning to locked position.
Press "Manual" button on the Instant Pot on high pressure, and then set the timer for 10- 20 minutes using the "+" or "-" buttons. The amount of time you choose will depend on the size of the artichoke. For small (the size of a pear): set to 7 minutes. For medium: set to 15 minutes. For large: set to 20 minutes. Note: there may be some guess work on timing. Sometimes your artichoke will between a small and a medium size, or between a medium and large)
It usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes for the pot to heat and build up pressure. You will see some steam release from the lid, and then the time will start on the display.
When artichokes are done, use a wooden spoon or oven mitt to careful turn steam valve to "vent" position releasing the steam. To avoid splatter you can cover the vent with a dish towel. Open lid and remove artichokes with spoon or tongs. Serve with your choice of melted butter, mayo or aioli for dipping.
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