Steamed Artichokes

Steamed Artichokes
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A tasty thistle!

All throughout artichoke season, we’ve mentioned that our standard way of preparing artichokes is to just steam them, which is and isn’t true. Besides, we thought that, since we’d never cooked artichokes before joining the CSA, there might be a few people out there who are wondering how to cook these huge thistles.

As we said, we always steam them, which is true, but we don’t just steam them. Instead, we steam them using a slight modification of the technique described in our favorite cookbook (we look at a huge number of cookbooks, but this is hands-down our most useful): The Joy of Cooking, by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker.

Steamed Artichokes

Yield: 6 artichokes

Steamed Artichokes


  • 2-3 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced in half
  • 2-4 slices onion
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 6 artichokes

Abbreviated Instructions

Combine lemon juice, bay leaves, garlic, onion, and water in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.

Wash artichokes and cut about 1/3 from the top leaves and trim stem to about 1/2 inch long.

Dip stem in steaming liquid to prevent discoloration, then place stem side up in the pan. Repeat with remaining artichokes.

Cover pan and place over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and steam for 20 minutes.

Ingredient discussion:

This is one place where you can get away with bottled lemon juice. While it does give some flavor, it’s mainly there to prevent the artichokes (especially the cut parts) from discoloring. You can put other spices into the steaming liquid, and we’ve added celery seeds in the past, but the small leaves or seeds work themselves up into the leaves. If you add additional spices, you might want to tie them in a small muslin cloth to keep them in place.

Procedure in detail:

This one is so simple, it’s really not even a recipe; more of a technique, so we’ll just put in a few photos.

cutting artichoke
Trim off the tops of the leaves so the artichokes will be more stable in the steaming pan.
artichoke ready to be steamed
We dip the stems in the lemon water, then invert the artichoke. The lemon water prevents discoloration.
Sometimes you really need to pack in those ‘chokes.

Obviously, if this is our standard way of preparing artichokes, we must think it’s worth five stars. It is. Even if it’s mainly because it’s the easiest way to prepare artichokes. Plus, we like that all you’re eating is artichokes, and the flavor isn’t hidden or overpowered by other flavors. We like them steamed like this so much that we often have them just plain. No melted butter, no Hollandaise, just pull off the leaves one-by-one and scrape off any flesh between your teeth.

Worth the trouble?

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