Fresh artichokes. I love em’, but as a kid I always questioned why we were scraping the tiny amount of flesh off the leaves with our teeth. I felt it was just to eat the butter. Not that I had a problem with that.
But the artichoke is a really healthy veggie, one artichoke delivering a third of our daily requirement for fiber and more antioxidants than almost any other vegetable. What I like about it is how long it takes to eat. It keeps me busy for a while, which is a good thing.
If you have never prepared whole artichokes to eat, it’s easier than you think. If you haven’t served artichokes to your kids please do so! It’s better to show them how to eat them at home than for them to figure out how they go about consuming one in public.
My oldest son once went on and on about disliking artichokes. When he finally saw me eating one, he said, “Oh, that’s how you do it? I thought you ate the whole leaf.” Which he tried to do at a friend’s house. Some people don’t know which side of the leaf to eat either. Anyway, it’s a great interactive food for the kid’s to experience before they order it on a date for the first time.
Since artichokes brown easily due to oxidation, I prep mine right before I am going to steam them. It helps somewhat combat the ragged, brown edges which can appear.
How to Prep an Artichoke for Steaming
- Cut the stem so it is about 1/2″ in length
- Remove any small, dehydrated leaves from the base
- Slice about 1″ off the top
- Use kitchen shears to snip thorns off all the remaining petals
Steam artichokes in an 1″ of water. I like to add lemon, fresh thyme and garlic to the pan for a little flavor and the lemon helps prevent a little more browning.
While the artichokes are steaming, make the sauce. You can’t see the basil leaves here, they are under the cream.
Steamed Artichokes with Garlic-Orange-Basil Cream Dipping Sauce
- 4 large whole artichokes
- juice of one lemon
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 6 large cloves of garlic
- 6 large fresh basil leaves
- zest of one orange
- 2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- *1 Tablespoon cornstarch or 1/2 teaspoon xantham gum
- Prep artichokes by cutting the stems so they are about 1/2" in length, removing any small, dehydrated leaves from the base of the artichoke. Slice about 1" off the top and use kitchen shears to snip thorns off all the remaining petals. Place artichokes in a large pan with about 1" of water, add lemon juice, thyme and garlic. Bring water to a boil and turn down to a simmer for 25-45 minutes, depending on the size of the artichoke. They are done when leaves can be easily removed.
- While artichokes are steaming, make the sauce. In a skillet, combine cream, garlic, basil, zest, orange juice and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer until cream begins to thicken and garlic is fork tender, about 25 minutes. Stir often. Finish with butter. The mixture won't be "real" thick. *It's going to be your choice on how to thicken or not thicken it. You can do it with 1 Tablespoon dissolved (in water) cornstarch (stir in for one minute over high heat) or 1/2 teaspoon xantham gum which is what I used (it works so wonderfully), just stir in. You can also leave it as is, it's still good thin. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.
- Serve sauce with artichokes for dipping.
While melted butter is the classic pairing with artichokes, I wanted to make a different dipping sauce to enjoy with these lovely veggies. Everyone loved the new twist and the sauce was thick so it made you feel like you were really eating something.