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How to enjoy artichokes

artichoke harvest-bb
What drive through Castroville, CA, would be complete without a visit to the Giant Artichoke?

Now that I’ve shown you how artichokes are grown and harvested, let’s get to the real mystery: what do you do with them?

The first time I had a non-canned, non-briny, non-pickled artichoke was at CPMA in Vancouver in 2006. Ocean Mist Farms was serving one of the only savory dishes on the show floor – prime rib and fried artichoke hearts. This was my first “big” produce show, and my love of fine expo floor grazing was born.

I’ve been cooking artichokes for a few years now, having watched a video from suppliers here and there. I even tried frying my own baby artichokes like Giada de Laurentiis told me I could do on the Food Network. (LIES! – or maybe my artichokes weren’t “baby” enough?)

But, fried? Yeah, no. That’s not going to work on the regular, so I cobbled together a few happy accidents and came up with a way to cook artichokes that everyone seems to love.

First, I keep my artichokes in cups of water like a flower. That rehydrates them and keeps them fresh.

Then, when it’s time to cook, I do my usual prep work (trim the top off, snip off thorns, peel stem, cut in half, remove choke). I didn’t show you this step because there’s about 10,000 videos out there showing you how to do this already.   

My twist?

I roast lemons and garlic along with the artichokes to make a tasty dipping paste.

(and if you’re wondering what the Yeaaaaahhh Lemons is about, it’s time for my periodic reminder that this video exists. If you haven’t seen the Limoneira Sheep Raps About Clean Energy video, you’re not living your fullest life. The internet is a beautiful place, y’all!)

I’ve done all kinds of twists on this method, from roasting from raw while covered, then taking off the foil to broil for the last 20 minutes, to fully steaming whole artichokes and roasting the lemons and garlic separately. It can be done lots of different ways, but the speediest, with the best results, involves steaming prepared halves of artichokes and then either grilling or roasting for a few minutes to bring out the nutty flavor.

Take your lemons (yeahhhhh, lemons!) and roasted garlic cloves and squish the squishy bits together to make a dipping sauce. (“squish the squishy bits together” is probably why I’m not a cookbook author) It’s way better for you than straight mayonnaise. Sometimes, I add butter to it, though, and that kind of cancels out my flexitarian vegan-for-a-day healthy meal vibe.

Or, if you’re feeling really crunched for time and want a similar tasty experience, you can always just steam your artichokes in the microwave (or Instant Pot!) and eat them dipped in the sauce from Chicken Piccata.

Might I recommend Giada De Laurentiis’s recipe? It’s my favorite.

Pamela Riemenschneider is the Retail Editor for Blue Book Services.