Relax, It's Just an Artichoke

This leafy, multi-layered vegetable may look intimidating, but it's a lot easier to trim, steam and devour than it seems.

Photo by: Laura Agra

Laura Agra

Recently I was asked to name my favorite vegetable, and I was stumped — or torn, as I like so many. My sister, however, would not have hesitated for a second: favorite vegetable, artichoke; second favorite, artichoke; third favorite, artichoke. She might actually choose an artichoke over a slice of cheesecake. (Just kidding; she’d choose the cheesecake.)

For many of us, artichokes are definitely one of the most alluring and mysterious vegetables around. A tender, slightly sweet heart sits in the middle, surrounded by a battalion of pointy leaves — artichokes look much like flowers, and they are actually a member of the thistle family. Perhaps part of their mystique is that so little of the globe-shaped vegetable is good to eat. Essentially it’s the heart, the base, that‘s edible, and when you cook an artichoke and pull out the leaves, a small piece of the choke attaches itself to the base of the leaf and can be scraped off with one’s teeth. Then, once all the leaves are gone and the bristly thistle is scraped away, the artichoke bottom is there for the eating. In short, if you are a person who loves lobster and is willing to go through the work to extract every delicious morsel, then this is your vegetable.

Photo by: Laura Agra

Laura Agra

To cook perfectly tender steamed artichokes every time, check out Katie’s step-by-step gallery; then make her Steamed Artichokes with Harissa Mayonnaise Dipping Sauce.

Next Up

Market Watch: Artichokes

It's worth breaking through artichokes' spiky exteriors to get to their delicately flavored leaves and hearts.

Just What Exactly Are Giblets?

They're the secret to better flavor from your bird.

Thin Mints Just Got Even Crunchier

You can now get the taste of Thin Mints ... in a Stacy’s Pita Chip?

Caraway Just Dropped A Copper Cookware Collection

And it comes in three show-stopping color options.

Rubbermaid Just Launched a Stunning Bakeware Line

This bakeware goes from freezer to oven to table without skipping a beat!

Are You Chronically Fatigued or Just Tired?

Good health includes rest. A dietitian shares tips for combatting tiredness — and when to see a doctor.

This Wrapping Paper Smells Just Like Bacon

Add this to your list of holiday musts.

All-Clad's Factory Seconds Sale Just Got Extended

You have two more days to save big on nonstick pans, cookware sets and more!

Crate & Barrel Just Launched Their Own Cookware Line

The line includes stainless steel and ceramic nonstick pans, bakeware and more!

What to Do With Canned Artichoke Hearts

This "heart-y" ingredient should be a staple in your pantry.