When you know how to cook artichokes you will have a beautiful and tasty vegetable for your meals. The artichoke is in season from October to about June and it is in April and May when they are the least expensive.
They should be a lovely green colour with tight clinging fleshy leaves – so if the leaves are spreading and a bit fuzzy they are becoming too old! The stem also should also be nice and fresh and green.
Of course if you live in France you will have a choice of baby artichokes which are lovely to cook, but for those of us who do not we will just make do with the larger one, usually around four inches high and in diameter.
They can be eaten hot or cold and so are a great vegetable to use for yourself, your family or for entertaining friends.
When used cold they are served as a separate course as a starter or instead of a salad.
How to prepare your artichokes
But, how do you eat them?
Well, they are now ready to eat if you want them hot.
If you have not eaten an artichoke before, you have been missing out on a really good vegetable but now you will know that - they are gorgeous.
Simply pull off one of the leaves and hold the tip in your fingers - dip the bottom in either melted butter or a sauce you have chosen to have with them such as hollandaise sauce.
Now, scrape off the gorgeous tender flesh between your teeth and savour the flavor and freshness of the artichoke.
When you come to the heart - you eat this with a knife and fork after discarding the hairy centre bit or the choke. You don't have to remove the choke before serving but it looks better if you do.
If you want to do this, simply open up the leaves until you can reach the centre and pull out the centre cone in one piece. Scrape off the choke (the hairy growth) so that you expose the tender fleshy heart.
Sprinkle the heart with salt and pepper and put the cone of leaves upside down in the hollow.
For serving your artichokes hot you can have sauces such as the hollandaise, or a lemon sauce or simply melted butter.
To serve them cold use a dressing such as vinaigrette, a mustard dressing or simply a good mayonnaise.
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