Artichokes are like that kid in school who had a reputation as a tough guy, but when you got to know him, you found he was not only really smart, but easy to get along with, too. Artichokes seem difficult to prepare, but if you take a little time to get to know them, you’ll find that prep is relatively simple. Good thing as these harbingers of Spring are nutrition packed, with 7 grams of fiber, more antioxidants than broccoli, and lots of vitamin K, an essential nutrient for bone health and cognitive function. Plus, they’re really versatile and absolutely delicious.
First, let’s kill the myth that artichokes are hard to work with. It takes a little doing but it isn’t difficult. Here’s how:
- Take 1 raw artichoke and pull off all the tough outer leaves with your fingers. Stop when you get down to the lighter, softer yellow inner leaves. (If you’re using more than one, have a bowl filled with water and juice from 1 lemon at hand; keep the squeezed lemon halves.)
- Using a serrated knife, slice off the top 1/4 of the artichoke, and cut off the tough bottom of the stem.
- Working carefully and using a sharp paring knife, trim away the outer part of the artichoke to get to the heart. Trim away the tough outer part of the stem; the inner part will be lighter in color and more tender. (If you’re taking your time at this, that’s OK: Just rub one of the lemon halves over the artichoke to keep it from browning.)
- To remove the choke, use a spoon to scoop out as much as possible. Then, using your paring knife, trim off any remaining bit of choke. You’re left with the meaty core, AKA the heart, which is the best part. If you’re using several artichokes, drop each heart into the lemon water before continuing.
Once your artichokes are ready, you can slice them and eat them raw, or cook them in a variety of ways. Read on for some of our favorites.
SHAVED ARTICHOKE SALAD
Thinly slice 4 raw artichoke hearts with a knife or mandolin. Quickly toss with some fresh lemon juice. Pat dry and place in a bowl with drained oil-packed tuna, pitted olives, and chopped parsley. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds. Serves 2.
Cut an artichoke heart into 4 pieces, toss with olive oil and salt, and roast at 400ºF for 20 minutes. Let cool. Roughly chop the pieces and place in a bowl. Peel and cube an avocado; place in the bowl with the artichoke heart. Add a pinch of salt, ½ cup halved grape tomatoes, ½ minced shallot, and a squeeze of lime juice. Serve with chips or jicama sticks. Serves 2.
ARTICHOKE & SWEET POTATO HASH
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil; add a pinch of salt. Leaving the skin on, cut half a sweet potato into cubes and chop half of a peeled sweet onion. Add potato cubes to boiling water and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Warm 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add artichoke heart pieces, season lightly with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, until softened. Add sweet potato pieces and sauté until just warmed through. Top with ¼ cup cilantro leaves. Serves 2.
ARTICHOKE HUMMUS TOAST
Roast 2 chopped artichoke hearts tossed with a drizzle of olive oil in a 400ºF oven for 20 minutes. Let cool. Toast 2 slices of your favorite whole grain or gluten-free bread over an open stovetop flame or in the toaster. Let cool, then top with high-quality ricotta (or 2% whole-fat Greek yogurt), and top with the artichoke. Drizzle with a touch of tahini, honey and Maldon salt or any sea salt. Serves 2.
SPICY ARTICHOKE & SHRIMP TOSTADA
In a sauté pan over low-medium heat toss in 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 minced garlic clove, ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, and 6 cleaned, chopped medium wild shrimp. Cook until the shrimp have turned pink in color, about 3 minutes. Then add 2 roughly chopped raw artichoke hearts, and a pinch of salt. Let cook until artichoke is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Top two store-bought tostadas with the mixture, 1/4 sliced avocado, and a squeeze of lime juice. Serves 2.