Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Is for Artichokes

April means a lot of things — my dad's birthday, my boyfriend's birthday, Easter lilies, blooming dogwoods, the return of short-sleeve weather. But it also means the return of fresh, seasonal produce — namely asparagus and artichokes. Every spring, I try to cram as much asparagus in as possible, as I refuse to buy it out of season. But I typically only enjoy artichokes once or twice and that's enough to last me through the next year. They are a lot of work, after all.

Start by trimming the pointy little horns off all the leaves. Then lop a little off the top and whack off the stem.

This step isn't totally necessary, but the artichoke looks much fancier after a little groomin'. Rub the leaves with a half a cut lemon to prevent browning. Then you can either steam the artichoke in a steamer basket for about 45 minutes or steam it in the microwave for 20 minutes. Here's the freshly-steamed artichoke I ate for dinner tonight:

I prefer the stovetop steamer basket method, as it doesn't dry out the tops of the leaves. But sometimes, like tonight, you just don't want to wait 45 minutes to eat. Both methods make for super tender artichoke "meat."

To eat, just pull it apart leaf by leaf. Dip the white bottom part in a flavorful dip and scrap off the meat with your teeth. I served mine with two dips — Tangy Tofu Salad Dressing from Meatless Burgers by Louise Hagler (this is like a low-fat version of vegan mayo) and some Cedar's Roasted Garlic and Chive Hummus.

Keep a large bowl handy for discarding the inedible portion of the leaves. Once you work your way down past the leaves, remove the prickly hairs and indulge in the tender artichoke heart. I like to spread my artichoke heart with loads of dip and savor each bite.

Check out this link for an illustrated step-by-step guide to cooking and eating artichokes.

25 comments:

Sarah said...

This is such a helpful post! I've never eaten artichokes before as am put off by the tinned variety and had no idea how to prep fresh artichokes. But now i do so maybe this April will be the time for my first artichoke :) thanks

Veg is Sexy said...

My mom makes the BEST stuffed artichokes, I can't wait to try to make my own this spring.

Mandiee said...

Thanks for the informative post! I've really had a hankering for artichokes lately. I hope they show up in my farmer's market soon!

Have a lovely day!
xox

Sheridanna said...

Ooooooh! Good idea! I will definitely have to steam an artichoke soon! So, we didn't make the potato wraps. Instead, Drew made these arugula and portabella panini sandwiches (so good) and I made pasta salad. But, I want to try those soon!

Glauce said...

Oh, April is my husband's birthday too (and our marriage anniversary) and he loves artichkes ;D

T said...

Oh, I love artichokes but I so rarely have them because its a lot of effort for one person. Sounds like a good excuse to throw a dinner party! :)

The Voracious Vegan said...

I love this post! I really like artichokes but have only ever eaten them in restaurants in my pre vegan days, because I am too intimidated to make them for myself. but you make it sound so easy, I've got to give it a go!

Gina said...

Hm, that actually sounds way easier than I thought it was! Thanks Bianca, I'll have to take a crack at fresh artichokes this year!!

Mihl said...

I've also never eaten artichokes. I'm a bit afraid of them and they are quite expensive. But after this post I'll probably head to the grocery store to buy some, soon!

Millie said...

I have never had artichoke because i do not like the hard texture. Its interesting, but it's the only veg I can't even try. Nice post though. thanks.

http://nuestracena-vegancuisine.blogspot.com

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

very helpful. I never know what to do with those freaky things!

The Shenandoah Vegan said...

I've never prepared a fresh artichoke either. I'm gonna do it!

Jess - The Domestic Vegan said...

I really need to try making my own artichokes again. I only made them once a long time ago, and SOMEHOW (no idea how), they were a disaster. I think I overcooked them & when I tried to eat them, there was no artichoke "meat" left. It was all dried up! I'll use your guide as a tutorial next time.

I always load up on asparagus in the spring, too! I never buy it any other time, and I love it so damn much.

two vegan boys said...

Yum. As usual, another great post. We are trying to grow artichokes in our garden this year. They are quite successful here in the South. So, I hope our's do well. Yum!

Tanya said...

Thanks for this. I always stand in the grocery store staring at the artichokes wondering if I should buy some and then realize I have no idea how to cook it!

Trinity (of haiku tofu) said...

I can't wait to try it myself!

Amey said...

ha! I totally agree with you about once or twice being enough. Last year I was foolish/fortunate enough to grow artichokes in my garden and we had SO MANY artichokes. While I made many incredible recipes and loved all the good food, I think I'm still burnt out... even living right near the artichoke capital of the world, I haven't bought one since!

prideandvegudice said...

Thanks, Bianca! I don't know anythinggg about artichokes, so this is very informative and helpful!

Lady Ren said...

Love how you trimmed them- We love artichoke. I posted an article last month about how I made it- Here is a link if you are interested. Have a great weekend.
http://ladyofthearts.blogspot.com/2010/03/art-i-choke.html

Courtney said...

I love asparagus, but I LOVE artichokes even more--they are hands down my favorite food (tied with watermelon). They are not too much work to prepare--you don't have to trim them, like you say...really all you need to do is steam/cook them and enjoy! Soooooooooooo worth it!

Courtney

River - The Crafty Kook said...

Awesome! The one and only time that I tried to prepare and eat a fresh artichoke it was a complete and disgusting disaster. Poor Mr. Kook tried to eat it but even he couldn't manage to fake it! Hee hee! Thanks for the tips! :)

Dylan said...

I like opening up the center, adding a teaspoon of olive oil, thyme, sea salt, and pepper, then throwing them in the oven for 40 minutes or so to roast. Wonderful.

Alternatively, you can cut out the heart by making diagonal cuts from the base towards the tip (this removes the hard parts but leaves the soft white parts). After doing this, slice the heart into thin pieces and then add to rice or pasta.

em said...

i love artichokes and i love hummus...i don't know why i've never put the two together!

eileen said...

yay artichokes! we had an artichoke bush in the backyard, when I was little, so I was totally eating them by age three. my favorite dip is homemade vinaigrette with lots of cracked pepper and dijon mustard!

Erin said...

I feel the exact same way - tons of asparagus, and a few artichokes! My CSA usually sends me artichokes two or three times a year, which is plenty.