Whole artichokes are nature’s nacho, but their pointy leaves and pine cone appearance can deter people from trying to cook them at home. Rest assured, cooking up whole artichokes takes no more know-how than it takes to boil water and use scissors. And with only 60 calories and 7 grams of fiber per artichoke, it might just become your favorite new veggie.
Note that while the recipe is written for one artichoke, you can steam as many artichokes as you can easily fit in your steamer basket.
Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a large pot fitted with a steamer basket. The water level should not touch the basket itself.
Prepare the artichoke for steaming. Pull off any tough leaves from the base of the artichoke. Using a serrated knife, cut off the top 1/3 of the artichoke and most of the stem. Snip the pointy ends off the remaining leaves and give the artichoke a rinse under cool water.
Place the artichoke in the steaming basket and cover the pot. Let the artichoke cook for 35 minutes, or until a knife slides into the base easily or the inner leaves pull out easily with tongs. Be very careful when you open the lid to check the artichokes—the steam will be hot enough to burn.
While the artichokes are cooking, make your sauce by combining the light mayo, a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
Once the artichoke is finished and tender, remove from the basket and let it cool for a few minutes. To eat the artichoke, pull off each leaf and dip the base of each leaf (the whiter, fatter end) into the sauce. Then turn the leaf upside down, place it on your tongue, bite down and pull, letting your teeth scrape off the tender, fleshy artichoke meat.
Once you’ve worked your way through the leaves, you’ll be left with the artichoke prize: the heart. Use a spoon to scrape out and discard the inedible, fuzzy strands (called the choke) covering the heart. Then slather the heart in your remaining sauce and devour.
For a visual example of how to navigate an artichoke, click here.
If you don’t have a steaming basket, you can also cook artichokes directly in boiling water, for about 20–25 minutes, until the leaves come off easily and a knife slides easily into the base. Note that boiled artichokes tend to take on more water than steamed artichokes, so let them drain upside down for a few minutes before serving.
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