My seven-year old daughter is addicted to artichokes. Ever since my mother introduced her to our family's favorite simple steamed artichoke recipe, she and her little sister have been begging for this giant, edible thistle. I'll leave it to you to guess whether they're craving the antioxidants and plentiful fiber found in artichokes, or the melted butter we serve for dipping.
Fortunately, the steps for cooking artichoke are simple, and it's a dish I love too. Not to mention that it's the only remaining green vegetable the two of them will eat, unless you count celery stalks slathered with soy butter. (Which they usually lick off, leaving the celery forlorn on the plate.)
The only problem with serving artichoke for dinner is that it takes nearly an entire hour to cook, so you need to plan well in advance. We usually use this artichoke recipe on the weekends, leaving the 10-minute meals for the weekday scramble between school pickup and bath and bedtime.
Here's my mom's steamed whole artichoke recipe, which my brother and I have adored since we were about seven years old as well. You can serve it with simple butter, or a nice dipping sauce. Enjoy!
Steamed Artichoke Recipe
4 whole artichokes
margarine or butter
1 lemon (optional)
Place a folding steamer into a large pot. Fill the pot with water until you see it lapping through the holes in the steamer basket. Turn on high heat and cover.
Wash the artichokes well. Prepare the artichokes for steaming by chopping off the top inch of the leaves. Make a clean cut across the top of each artichoke using a large, sharp kitchen knife. Some people also trim the pointy ends of the artichoke using kitchen scissors but I've never found it necessary.
Cut the stems flush with the base of the artichoke and either discard or steam them with the artichokes. I find the stems too bitter; you may enjoy them.
Place the artichokes into the steamer basket and re-cover with the pot lid. By now the water should be boiling. Feel free to add a lemon slice or two to the water to add fragrance.
Cook for 50-60 minutes, checking every 20 minutes to be sure water remains in the pot. As the water level drops, refill with boiling water from a tea kettle.
Place 1-2 tablespoons of margarine or butter into a small bowl and microwave until liquid. You may substitute olive oil, in which case serve at room temperature. (I recommend a separate bowl for each child, and watch out for those who like to drink straight butter.)
Carefully remove the artichokes from the pot and serve with dipping sauce or melted margarine.
Note: to eat the artichoke, remove each leaf, dip in the margarine and scrape the fleshy part of the leaf with your teeth. Once the leaves start to get thin and scratchy, use a butter knife to cut away the fuzzy part remaining in the center. Cut the remainder of the artichoke (the heart) into pieces and eat.
Please let me know if your kids like this steamed artichoke recipe as much as mine do!
Photo by La Grande Farmers' Market Via Flickr