Basic Steamed Artichokes Recipe

Basic steamed artichokes are a classic delight in this recipe from developer Tanika Douglas, a dish that elevates simple vegetables into something magnificent. With a preparation that's both straightforward and rewarding, this easy dish is bound to become a favorite. Crafting this dish begins with selecting four fresh artichokes that are ready to be transformed. Douglas says, "The art of preparing them lies in the gentle trimming: slicing the stems, snipping away tough leaves, and ensuring a clean canvas. These steps not only refine the artichokes' appearance but also enhance their readiness to absorb flavors." 

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She continues, "Steaming is the key, infusing the artichokes with fragrant notes of lemon and garlic as they tenderize within the billowing steam. This process takes 30 minutes for the artichokes to reach that perfect, tender texture." Here's where simplicity meets decadence, with a spread of unsalted butter delicately coating each warm artichoke, followed by a sprinkle of salt to bring out the flavor.

While these steamed artichokes stand beautifully on their own, the option to serve them alongside aioli adds a delicious dimension, inviting a dip that complements their subtle richness. This recipe, a testament to uncomplicated satisfaction, allows you to create your irresistible, basic steamed artichokes in your own home. 

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Gather the ingredients for the basic steamed artichokes

To create these basic steamed artichokes, you will need artichokes, lemons, garlic cloves, unsalted butter, and salt. The star of the show in this steamed artichokes recipe is undoubtedly the artichoke itself. When sourcing artichokes, seek out medium-sized ones that feel weighty for their size, though we'll provide more tips on artichoke sourcing later. "For those seeking a vegan or dairy-free option, plant-based margarine can be a suitable substitute for butter in this recipe," says Douglas. "Opt for a margarine with a taste and texture similar to butter for the best results."

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Regarding the optional aioli, there are numerous delightful dips that can complement the steamed artichokes wonderfully. Douglas says, "For a classic twist, consider a simple, garlic-infused olive oil or a tangy lemon herb vinaigrette. Hummus, with its creamy texture and savory undertones, serves as an excellent alternative dip. Those craving a bit of spice might opt for a harissa yogurt dip, which adds a fiery kick. Alternatively, a light and refreshing tzatziki can bring a cool contrast to the warm, buttery artichokes."

Step 1: Slice off the stems

Slice the stems off the artichokes, leaving a 1-inch "handle." Remove any tough, dry leaves around the base of the artichokes.

Step 2: Cut off the tops

Slice ½ inch off the top of the artichokes to remove the dry leaves.

Step 3: Trim the leaves

Use scissors to cut the spiky tips off the external leaves.

Step 4: Wash the artichokes

Wash the artichokes in water to remove any excess dirt. Be sure to get the water in between the leaves.

Step 5: Make the steaming water

Fill a large pot with 2 inches of water and add the lemon slices and garlic cloves. Place over medium-high heat on the stove.

Step 6: Prepare the steamer

Place a steamer basket on top of the pot of water and add the artichokes.

Step 7: Steam the artichokes

Place a lid on the pot and steam the artichokes for 30 minutes, or until tender. 

Step 8: Remove artichokes

Remove the artichokes from the steamer and place on a serving plate.

Step 9: Finish the artichokes

Spread butter over the warm artichokes, then sprinkle with salt.

Step 10: Serve the artichokes

Serve the steamed artichokes alongside aioli, if desired.

What do basic steamed artichokes taste like?

Artichokes offer a uniquely complex flavor profile that's both earthy and subtly sweet with delicate hints of nuttiness and a pleasantly bitter undertone. At the heart of the artichoke lies its prized edible portion — the tender, fleshy base known as the heart. This part embodies the essence of the artichoke's flavor, boasting a mild sweetness accompanied by a subtle, nutty nuance. As one delves deeper into the heart, the taste evolves, offering a slightly meaty texture that's both satisfying and distinctive. Moving outward toward the leaves, the flavor intensifies. The outer leaves contribute to the artichoke's characteristic bitter edge, a pleasant and somewhat tangy taste that contrasts with its sweeter core. 

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"Cooking methods, such as steaming as in this recipe, coax out and soften these flavors, balancing the natural bitterness with a tender, almost creamy texture," says Douglas. "The infusion of lemon and garlic during the steaming process enhances the artichoke's inherent flavors, adding a subtle, citrusy zing and a gentle, savory note." The complexity of the artichoke's flavor makes it a versatile ingredient that is capable of complementing various dishes while also standing out as the star. Whether enjoyed as a standalone delight with butter and salt or incorporated into salads, dips, or pasta, its unique taste adds depth and character to recipes.

When are artichokes in season?

Artichokes are at their prime during the spring months, typically peaking from March through May in the Northern Hemisphere. This period marks the peak of their growing season when these thistle-like vegetables flourish. As the weather warms and daylight hours lengthen, artichoke plants thrive, producing their distinctive, globular flower heads that house the coveted edible portion — the artichoke heart.

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The artichoke plant's growth cycle aligns with the changing seasons, thriving in regions with mild climates and fertile soils. Coastal areas with temperate weather, such as California in the United States and the Mediterranean region, provide ideal conditions for cultivating these unique vegetables. During their peak season, artichokes boast superior flavor, tenderness, and freshness. Farmers markets and grocery stores brim with these green-hued gems, offering consumers a chance to indulge in their earthy, subtly sweet taste and tender texture. The abundance of artichokes during their seasonal peak not only ensures higher-quality produce but often makes them more budget-friendly, as well.

"While spring stands out as the primary season for artichokes, variations in climate and cultivation practices worldwide might slightly extend or shift their growing periods. Additionally, some regions might experience a secondary harvest period in the fall, albeit typically smaller in scale compared to the spring bounty," says Douglas. Outside of the peak season, artichokes might still be available due to modern farming techniques and global trade, though their quality and availability may vary. 

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Basic Steamed Artichokes Recipe

5 (8 ratings)

Artichokes offer a delicious blend of unique flavors, and this recipe offers a crash course in a kitchen essential -- steaming whole artchokes.

Prep Time
20
minutes
Cook Time
30
minutes
servings
4
Artichokes
steamed artichokes on plate with bowl of ailoi
Total time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 artichokes
  • 4 lemon rounds
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Optional Ingredients

  • Aioli, to serve

Directions

  1. Slice the stems off the artichokes, leaving a 1-inch "handle." Remove any tough, dry leaves around the base of the artichokes.
  2. Slice ½ inch off the top of the artichokes to remove the dry leaves.
  3. Use scissors to cut the spiky tips off the external leaves.
  4. Wash the artichokes in water to remove any excess dirt. Be sure to get the water in between the leaves.
  5. Fill a large pot with 2 inches of water and add the lemon slices and garlic cloves. Place over medium-high heat on the stove.
  6. Place a steamer basket on top of the pot of water and add the artichokes.
  7. Place a lid on the pot and steam the artichokes for 30 minutes, or until tender.
  8. Remove the artichokes from the steamer and place on a serving plate.
  9. Spread butter over the warm artichokes, then sprinkle with salt.
  10. Serve the steamed artichokes alongside aioli, if desired.

Nutrition

Calories per Serving 190
Total Fat 12.0 g
Saturated Fat 7.3 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 30.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 22.1 g
Dietary Fiber 9.4 g
Total Sugars 3.4 g
Sodium 533.1 mg
Protein 5.4 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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