How to Prepare and Eat an Artichoke

by Gillian on May 3, 2012

Last night as I was walking home, I swear I could smell artichokes cooking.  This favourite food of mine is full of rich memories.  Here is a simple how-to artichoke tutorial I wrote when I was living in Paris.

As a young girl I was taught how to eat artichokes in the South of France.

Susan, a mentor and older German woman in the village, taught me to peel the leaves one by one, dip them in rich olive oil mixed with lemon and salt, and scrape the meat off into my mouth.

At first I would just dip the leaves in the sauce and suck on them.  And then I discovered how to scrape the meat off the ends and the pleasure was all mine.

To this day I love to slowly peel an artichoke, all the way anticipating the heart, the best part of the artichoke that awaits you at the end.

I have taught many people how to prepare and eat an artichoke and my friend asked me just the other day if I could show her.

We bought a big beautiful artichoke from the market, but we never had the time to prepare it together.

Tonight I prepared the artichoke for myself and decided to post a picture tutorial so she would still know how.

I hope this is helpful as well!

1. First, fill a pot about 1/4 of the way with water.  Put your artichoke inside and cover.  Steam for about 30-45 minutes depending on the size, until the air is aromatic, the leaves are opening up and the insides look soft.  You can test a leaf if you have to.

2. Set your artichoke on a plate and grab a big empty bowl for your leaves.  Slowly work your way into the artichoke.  Enjoy plain or with a simple vinaigrette (I usually use olive oil, salt and lemon).

3. When you peel off a leaf, dip it in your sauce (or not) and scrape the plump, meaty end into your mouth.  Mmm.  Having fun yet?

4. Work your way into the artichoke until the leaves are too small and fragile to find meat on them.  You can pull these off and throw them in your bowl.

5. Now you will see a big hairy mess blocking you from the heart of the artichoke.  This is called the choke.  This is because these little hairy bits are easy to choke on if you leave them on!  Take the choke off carefully with a knife without digging too deep into the heart.
the choke

6. This is the best part.  The whole heart is yours to eat and enjoy, or share if you like.  I like it plain, dipped in vinaigrette, or on top of a lovely salad.
artichoke heart

salade au coeur d'artichaut

Bon appetit!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Danielle May 3, 2012 at 9:09 am

I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen the inside of an artichoke! Very cool.


the delicate place May 3, 2012 at 9:27 am

yum! i do love artichoke hearts! i think the most important thing about the artichoke is patience! they aren’t difficult to prepare per se but you gotta wait it out or else it’s too chewy/GI upset…i learned the hard way ha!


LizAshlee May 3, 2012 at 9:29 am

I have never cooked an artichoke-I need to get over it but it looks daunting! :)


Danielle @WorkItWearItEatIt May 3, 2012 at 10:46 am

I have ALWAYS wondered this. I’m going to try this for sure! :)


Marisa May 3, 2012 at 10:53 am

An artichoke to yourself is one of life’s happy little luxuries, non? :)


Lisa May 3, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Great tutorial! I need to try making an artichoke someday soon, I recently discovered my love for artichoke hearts. I must admit, it freaks me out a bit. I guess it just looks super hard!


Tamara May 3, 2012 at 11:16 pm

thanks so much G, I’ve never known how to eat one properly & so I’ve never bought them. Now I’m so excited to get one & try~ it looks like such a treat!



Yvonne May 6, 2012 at 7:55 pm

We shared an artichoke last night, in the south of France. Wish you had eaten yours with us.
I am excited about what you doing here, how this website is evolving, and how your voice is growing stronger and truer. Congratulations.


Gillian May 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Love you mama.


Michelle May 6, 2012 at 9:26 pm

I love this! My Italian mother in law makes stuffed ones for me all the time, but this is easier and something I can do at home. Thanks!


Gillian May 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Mmm stuffed ones sound great!


Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers May 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Thanks for the info. I’ve had them in things, but I’ve never actually just eaten an artichoke.


Gillian May 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm

You must try!!


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