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How to Steam Artichokes (and, a Balsamic Aioli)

by TastefullyJulie on April 4, 2012

artichoke

Artichokes make beautiful still-lifes!

Artichokes are on sale, people, get ‘em while they last! Actually, you can probably always get artichokes, but when out of season they’re either ridiculously expensive or just sickly-looking. Early Spring is the best time to find an abundance of giant, fresh artichokes.

Growing up we always had artichokes for Easter. And cardoons. Which makes a lot of sense now that I just found out they are both a type of thistle. How did I ever learn stuff before the internet?

Since I’m 100% Italian (Italian-Sicilian to be exact) my family always prepared artichokes stuffed with olive oil, bread crumbs, and LOTS of garlic. They were so delicious that way. Plus, we never had to worry about vampires.

After I married, my Irish/German/Polish husband informed me that he also loved artichokes. Oh, but he dipped the leaves in butter. What? I had never heard of such a thing. So, I tried it. Hello. Melted butter? Artichokes are, like, the lobster of vegetables.

Apparently, there’s a third group of people who like their artichokes with mayonnaise. Hmmm. Very interesting.

And, I suppose, there is a fourth group of people who don’t know what the heck to do with artichokes. Artichokes do have the potential to be quite intimidating to a first-timer. Made up of tough, thorny leaves with all that inedible fuzzy stuff in the middle. They don’t call it the “choke” for nothing. Yikes.

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How To Steam Artichokes
 

Ingredients
  • Lay artichoke on a cutting board on its side.
  • Using a very sharp knife, cut off the top ½ inch of the leaves to remove the prickly parts.
  • If the lower leaves have sharp thorns you can cut off the tops with scissors and, also, remove the outermost leaves (I usually don’t bother).
  • Cut the stem flush with the bottom of the artichoke and remove.
  • Bang the artichoke face down a few times the help spread out the leaves (see note 1).
  • Rinse out the inside of the artichoke with cold water.
  • Place artichoke in a stainless steel pot face up in about 2 inches of water. Aluminum or cast iron will discolor the artichokes in a bad way.
  • Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover.
  • Cook for at least 45 minutes, until a leaf can be pulled out easily (see note 2).

Instructions
  1. #instruction#

Notes
1. This step is probably not necessary but I always used to see my grandmother do it. It’s also a good way to get some aggression out. 2. All artichokes are different and some are much less tender than others. You will want to cook them until you test a leaf and the meaty part is tender. I’ve had them take up to 2 hours. Seriously. It’s best to plan ahead and cook artichokes in advance.

 

I also wanted to experiment with this mayo idea. I thought maybe I could come up with something just slightly less indulgent than a dipping bowl filled with butter. I found a nice fancy mayonnaise aioli recipe here that I altered ever so slightly. It’s delicious and it would be great with fries or sandwiches. When it comes to artichokes, I’m still a butter girl.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Balsamic Aioli
 

Ingredients
  • ½ cup light mayonnaise
  • ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 small sprig of fresh basil, minced

Instructions
  1. Measure all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together well.
  2. Refrigerate any unused aioli in an airtight container.

Notes
This would make an awesome spread for sandwiches such as veggie burgers, paninis, or grilled portabella mushrooms.

 

Balsamic Aioli

Balsamic Aioli

Finally, if you’ve lived such a sheltered life that you’ve never even encountered an artichoke before and need a major tutorial, well, here ya go.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kaitlin April 4, 2012 at 8:29 am

This was really helpful! I’ve been terrified to try to make artichokes but now I think I just might :)
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2 Grubarazzi (@Grubarazzi) April 4, 2012 at 8:57 am

Great pictures! I love posts like this, because I can tag them when I have an artichoke…and I have no idea how to cook it :) . Tagged for later. thanks!

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3 TastefullyJulie April 4, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Yes, do it! It’s a cinch.

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4 kale @ tastes good to me! April 4, 2012 at 10:58 am

Beautiful! I’ve never had a balsamic aioli, it sounds delicious!
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5 TastefullyJulie April 4, 2012 at 11:38 am

Thanks, it is! I’ve, uh, been spreading it on everything.
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6 2sisters2cities April 4, 2012 at 11:45 am

I am hosting an artichoke-themed linky party this week as part of our Fresh Produce Tuesday series at 2 Sisters 2 Cities. I would love it if you linked this recipe up!

-m
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7 TastefullyJulie April 4, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Sure, why not? Thanks!
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8 Kiri W. April 4, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Great post! :)
I am German (as in born there) and my wife schooled my parents and me on the butter dipping method. Tasty!
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9 Brianne @ Cupcakes & Kale Chips April 4, 2012 at 2:36 pm

I have been intimidated by artichokes, and I think the hubby would probably give me a yuck face, but I think you have inspired me to try them.
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10 TastefullyJulie April 4, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Yes, try them! Even my 9-year-old loves them.

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11 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen April 4, 2012 at 3:26 pm

We always have artichokes on Easter too. In fact, I was JUST thinking about them this morning and getting really excited. I love eating them, hate making them! :) Although, I may have to make this aioli and bring it with me this year…yum!
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12 Sandi April 4, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I’m goin to give it a try. Can you eat the stem, too?

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13 TastefullyJulie April 4, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Yes! I forgot to mention that. It tastes like the heart and it’s delicious. It’s a little stringy so peeling the outside layer helps. :)

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14 Alison April 4, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Artichokes always have seemed so daunting to me! Perhaps not any more. :)

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15 Bloggy April 5, 2012 at 12:03 am

Artichokes here I come…
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16 Choc Chip Uru April 5, 2012 at 3:44 am

Thanks for the tips :D
I never knew it could be so simple!

Happy Easter!
Choc Chip Uru
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17 ASHLEA April 5, 2012 at 11:29 am

What a beautiful picture and I cannot wait to try your dip. Steamed artichokes are one of my very favorites, but I have never ventured away from just melted butter. This looks great.
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18 Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious April 5, 2012 at 1:20 pm

You know I’m slowly beginning to like artichokes – very slowly. I never thought I’d go near one but then I started to like spinach artichoke dip, although I’m not sure if that counts since the ooey goey cheese takes over in that dish. But I’m trying to broaden my horizons so I will give this steamed artichokes a try. Thanks for the tips – it’ll be extremely helpful for a newbie like me :)
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19 ohkeeka [The Type A Housewife] April 5, 2012 at 9:23 pm

These photos are stunning! I love the way artichokes look, but I mentioned in a post last week, I just can’t get into the way they taste when they’re steamed. But I only steamed mine for 30 minutes, so I think that might be the issue. It’s me, not you, artichoke.

My husband’s family is Italian and they make artichokes the same way your family did–lots of breadcrumbs and olive oil!
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20 TastefullyJulie April 5, 2012 at 11:24 pm

I probably overcook my artichokes but I like them very tender. After only 30 minutes I don’t think I would be a fan either ;)

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21 beti April 9, 2012 at 12:26 am

hahaha that really is a strange looking artichoke but this is a lovely tutorial!
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22 Jess May 3, 2012 at 11:44 am

I LOVE this post! I am in the group that usually eats it with mayo, haha. I love that recipe for the balsamic aioli though, and will have to try it! Thanks! :)
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