During college I studied abroad in Florence and lived with seven other girls. To this day two of them are among my closest friends, including my “twin” Alexandra – we were born the same day of the same year in the same hospital! We spent a lot of time cooking (and drinking wine) that semester, and I will never forget when Alexandra introduced me to steamed artichokes. Believe it or not, until then I never (knowingly) had an artichoke, and certainly never one prepared this way. I loved the ceremony surrounding eating the artichoke and now it is one of my favorite appetizers to serve.
Nutritionally, artichokes are low in calories and a good source of vitamins C and K, fiber, potassium, and magnesium. They are also rich in antioxidants (number 7 on the USDA’s top-20 list of antioxidant-packed foods). Steamed artichokes are a good food to eat when you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight – you are naturally forced to slow down your eating because they take time to get to the meaty center – the prized artichoke heart.
Of course, if your consumption of artichokes is only in the form of spinach artichoke dip (which can rack up 300-800 calories depending on how much you have) or fried artichokes, you’ll be missing the mark on what makes them most nutritious! If you indulge in these higher-calorie artichoke dishes, just remember to watch your portion sizes. All things in moderation!
Do you like artichokes? What are your favorite artichoke recipes?
Steamed Artichokes with Vinaigrette
For the Artichokes:
- 2 medium artichokes
- 1 lemon cut in half
- 5-10 black peppercorns
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- Kosher salt
For the Vinaigrette:
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon grainy mustard
- 1 garlic clove minced
- Kosher salt and pepper
To Prepare the Artichokes:
- Pull off the short tough outer leaves of the artichokes and cut off the top 1/2 inch of the artichokes. Using kitchen scissors, trim off the sharp points of the remaining leaves. Rub the cut portion of the artichokes with the cut side of the lemon half.
- Slice the other half of the lemon. Place in a medium to large pot of water along with the peppercorns, thyme, bay leaf, and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
- Add the artichokes to the pot and simmer, covered, until tender, about 20-30 minutes. Drain, discarding the lemon slices and herbs; let cool slightly.
To Prepare the Vinaigrette:
- In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, mustard, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the artichokes with the vinaigrette for dipping.
To Eat the Artichokes:
- Pull off the outer petals of the artichoke one at a time.
- Dip white fleshy end in the vinaigrette. Tightly grip the other end of the petal. Place in mouth, vinaigrette side down, and pull through teeth to remove the soft, pulpy portion of the petal. Discard the remaining petal.
- When you get close to the middle of the artichoke, the petals will become prickly and not have a fleshy edible part. DO NOT EAT THESE!
- With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the "choke") covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into the vinaigrette to eat.
This recipe can serve 2 people if eating as the main side dish; serves 4 if using as an appetizer.