If you didn’t grow up eating artichokes they might seem a little intimidating, as it's not intuitive or obvious how they should be cooked, or even enjoyed. You could have them as antipasti like the Italians, stuff them or make preserves, but the "French Way" of eating the leaves like a spoon by hand is much more fun, special and will make you appreciate their flavor the most. A simple dressing of olive oil, vinegar and salt goes very well with its nutty flavor, but if you fancy a creamier texture try mixing vegan mayonnaise (Vegenaise) with a dash of balsamic!
Artichokes are flowers buds harvested before they bloom and the most common type, globe artichoke, is a variety of a species of thistle cultivated as a food. Once steamed or boiled you can eat the soft inner curve of the petals, the stem and the real gem: its heart, the flower's tender succulent center, which tastes amazing. Just make sure you remove the hairy filaments called choke and don't eat the thorns, located right at the petals' end. Introduce your kids to artichokes so they can enjoy this "finger food" starting at a young age!
1. Gather the ingredients
- 2 tsp veganaise (egg-free mayonnaise)
- balsamic vinegar (to taste)
- 1 tsp of artichoke stem
2. Choosing your artichokes
Choose greener artichokes, (not the purple ones) and make sure the stems are not cracked.
Rinse the artichokes under cool running water thoroughly and be careful to clean out any debris that may have gotten lodged down into the leaves.
4. Trim the stem
Cut out the rough end of the stem leaving about 1 or 2 inches of it. The stems are super tasty! Depending on which type of artichoke you have, you may wish to trim the tips off the leaves.
Steaming artichokes will preserve their taste more than if you boil them or bake them. If you don’t have a steamer you could use low water in a pan. Steam anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes depending on their size and pinch the heart easily with a fork until they are soft and ready to eat. Make sure you don’t undercook them.
6. Make the dip
Mix the Vegenaise with a drop of balsamic and mashed artichoke stem (that is the bit with the strongest flavor). To eat them pull the leaves, dip the bottom in the sauce, put the petal in your mouth and drag with your teeth across the bottom. Discard and repeat again and again. This is a wonderful and sophisticated yet simple finger food for kids!
Photos by Ana Lisa Alperovich for Inhabitots