The sweet hearts of artichokes are worth fighting through their thorny exterior. See how easy it is to cook up artichokes – whether microwaving, steaming, or sauteeing – with this guide to cooking artichokes.
Braising artichokes in a broth of lemon and garlic works whether you want to trim the artichokes so people can eat them with a knife and fork or have everyone pull off their own leaves. Pack the artichokes into a baking pan, add broth so it reaches about half-way up the artichokes, add any lemon or garlic or herbs you like, cover, and cook over low heat or in a hot (350°F) oven until the artichokes are tender at the heart.
Sliced, trimmed baby artichokes fried in olive oil become golden, crisp delights. Serve them on their own as a nibble before dinner or as part of an antipasto plate. Heat oil to 350°F to 375°F and trim and slice the artichokes. If using larger artichokes, be sure to scoop out the hairy "choke" in the center before cooking.
Steaming artichokes in the microwave is much quicker than doing it on the stove-top, obviously. The slightly drier nature of the method, however, requires using the very freshest of chokes to avoid a tough texture. Trim artichokes, set them in a dish with about 1/4 inch of water, cover, and cook on high in 1-minute increments until the artichokes are tender at the heart.
In order to sautée artichokes, you will need to trim them first. If you've never trimmed or cleaned baby artichokes before, see this easy-to-follow guide. Then heat a pan with some oil over medium high heat and add the trimmed artichokes. Cook, stirring frequently, until the artichokes are tender - adding salt and any other seasonings you like along the way.
Steaming brings out the nutty flavor and light sweetness buried deep in each artichoke thistle. Trim the stem end so the artichoke will stand. Set artichokes in a steamer basket or just on the bottom of a medium or large saucepan. Add about 1/2 inch of water and some salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, undisturbed, until you can easily pull out one of the center leaves of the artichoke and it is tender at the heart, 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size of the artichokes. Add more water if the pot looks like it might get dry.
Serve steamed artichokes warm, at room temperature, or chilled with one of these delicious dips.