If you didn't grow up eating artichokes, they can look pretty unapproachable. Luckily I had a mother who loved artichokes, and we had them as often as the budget would permit. Some people cook them whole and cut the choke out after, but I learned from my mom to cut the artichokes in half and cut out the choke before cooking. This may have been due to having ten kids in the family, since each family member got half an artichoke, probably all the budget would permit!
Whatever the reason I've been doing it that way ever since, even now that I'm buying my own artichokes and can eat as many as I want. I used to cook my artichokes in a pan with a few inches of boiling water, but when CookieCrumb shared the idea of using the pressure cooker, I thought it was brilliant. I followed CookieCrumb's idea of adding some aromatics to the water and checked Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure to help with the timing.
Artichokes are thistles, originally from Europe. The bud is completely edible in young artichokes, but in mature plants, only the center heart and tips of leaves are edible, and the choke must be removed. You can dip the heart and tips in sauces, butter, or mayonnaise, and artichokes are good hot or cold.
With a bit of trimming and peeling you can eat most of the artichoke stem, so I always pick the ones with the longest stems. Trim the discolored end, then cut off the very lowest leaves and peel the stem. This photo shows an artichoke stem before trimming on the right, and after trimming on the left.
After the stem is trimmed and peeled, cut the artichoke in half through the stem. Then use a small sharp knife to make a deep cut under the fuzzy choke. Grab the very inside leaves, and pull out, taking the choke with it. With practice you can get it out in one or two pulls, and leave as much of the leaves as you can while removing all the choke. In the photo above the artichoke on the right shows the choke intact, and in the one on the left the choke has been removed.
CookieCrumb suggested using things like lemon peel, herbs, or chiles in the water to add more flavor to the artichokes. I think there are endless flavorings that could be good here, but I used dried lemon peel and dried shallots, both from Penzeys.
You can trim the prickly tips of the artichoke leaves with scissors if you want to, but I usually don't bother with that. Four artichoke halves fit perfectly into my 3.7 quart Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cooker. Here's how the artichokes looked before they were cooked.
And here are the perfectly cooked artichokes, coming out of the pressure cooker six minutes later! I have to confess, I ate both artichokes in one day!
How to Cook Artichokes in the Pressure Cooker
(Inspired by artichoke cooking advice from CookieCrumb and timing recommendations from Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure.)
2 medium-sized artichokes
2 cups water
1/2 tsp. dried lemon zest or 1-2 tsp. fresh lemon zest
1 tsp. dried shallots or 2 tsp. minced fresh shallots
(You can use any flavorings of your choice such as onions, garlic, chiles, or herbs.)
I used a 3.7 quart pressure cooker. If you want to cook more than two artichokes at a time, use a larger size.
Put the metal rack in the bottom of the pressure cooker. Add 2 cups water and put on the stove and bring to a boil.
While water is coming to a boil, cut off discolored end of artichoke stem and remove any stray leaves growing below the base of the artichoke, then use a vegetable peeler to peel the thicker skin on the stem. Cut artichoke in half lengthwise through the stem. Use a small, sharp knife to make a deep cut below the choke on each artichoke half, then pull away the very inside leaves, pulling the choke with it. (This may take a few cuts your first try.) Rinse the inside of the artichoke if any fuzzy choke fibers remain.
Add lemon zest and shallots to boiling water in the pressure cooker, then put in artichokes, inside facing down. Lock lid and bring to high pressure, then lower heat enough to maintain high pressure and pressure cook for 6 minutes. (Start timing as soon as high pressure is reached.) After six minutes, use quick release method to release pressure, then open lid carefully. Test for doneness by pulling out one leaf; it should remove easily and be tender on the end and the stem should pierce easily with a fork. My artichokes were perfectly cooked in six minutes, but if you need to cook a little longer, just put lid on but don't lock and cook a few minutes more.
Serve artichokes hot, warm, or cold. The artichokes in the photo were served warm with Mom's Artichoke Dipping Sauce.
South Beach/Low-Carb Suggestions:
Artichokes are a great choice for any phase of the South Beach Diet. One whole artichoke has about 13 carbs, but 7 grams of fiber, so they are also relatively low in carbs.
More Artichoke Love from Kalyn:
White Bean and Artichoke Dip with Whole Wheat Tortilla Chips
Arugula Salad with Marinated Artichokes and More
Artichoke Rosemary Frittata
Other Bloggers Write About Artichokes:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
A is for April, Asparagus, Artichokes, and Arugula from Alanna at BlogHer
I Heart Artichokes from Tammy at BlogHer
How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke from Simply Recipes
Fried Baby Artichokes from Steamy Kitchen
(I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)