Simple, Delicious, Healthy.
Artichokes are a staple in our kitchen; in fact, I always have fresh and jarred on hand. Most people are familiar with the canned or bottled artichoke hearts, but they cannot match up to the unique, nutty flavor of fresh steamed artichokes. In addition, eating the whole choke is fun.
Artichokes are very healthy. The total antioxidant capacity of artichoke flower heads is one of the highest reported for vegetables. They contain cynarin, which lowers cholesterol and is good for the liver and gallbladder. One medium-sized artichoke is a good source of vitamin C, folate and potassium. Its low in sodium, fat-free and a dieter’s delight at only 25 calories. Steaming, rather than boiling, uses little water so the artichoke retains more of its nutrients.
You will need
A Large Pot with a lid & A Steamer basket
2 Whole Artichokes
2 Garlic Cloves
2 Dried Bay Leaves
4 Whole Peppercorns
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons butter or butter substitute ( I used parkay)
Zest one of the lemons and place the zest into a separate bowl.
Set the steamer basket in the pot; add enough water so it reaches just below the basket.
Cut the lemons in half lengthwise (set one-half aside for the sauce) and squeeze the lemon juice into water then add lemon halves to water and stir well. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns, and garlic to the pot.
Wash artichokes under cold water. Using a stainless steel knife cut off the stems, I do not cut away the entire stem (because you can eat it and tastes good). I leave about 1 1/2″ or so. Pull off the lower petals that are small and tough (Don’t throw these away they can be used to make artichoke soup). Cut off the top inch of the artichoke and place the artichokes into the pot with the lemon water to preserve the green color.
Tip: If you wish, trim the thorny tips of the petals with kitchen shears. This is not a necessary step though since the petals soften during steaming.
Put the artichokes, stem end up, inside the steamer basket. Cover and steam until base of artichoke is easily pierced with the tip of a knife, 35 to 45 minutes.
Stop and enjoy the wonderful aroma!
Whisk together butter, lemon zest, and the juice of the lemon half set aside, salt, and pepper to make a lemon sauce; transfer to a bowl.
Dip the ends of the leaves the dipping sauce. Pull off a leaf from the bottom and scrape the meat off the tender end with your front teeth. When you reach the center cone of purple prickly leaves, remove it. This choke protects the heart. Now, scrape away the thistle fuzz covering the artichoke heart. The heart is the meatiest part of the artichoke. Top heart with dipping sauce and enjoy!
Tip: Cutting the lemons in half-lengthwise makes it easier to juice them.
Tip: Avoid drinking wine while eating artichokes, because cynarin causes everything else to taste sweeter in your mouth and may alter the flavor of fine wine.
FYI: Artichokes possess good keeping qualities, often remaining quite fresh for two weeks or longer under average retail conditions.