Artichokes Steamed in the Microwave
I may not be able to grow these unusual but delicious vegetables, but I sure can eat them! I have childhood memories of eating artichokes with my mom. My dad hated them and thought the two of us were beyond weird in our excitement over this spiky globe.
Artichoke has its own individual flavor that I believe is an acquired taste. My mom was a true believer that artichokes were a vehicle for melted butter. My grandfather, also an artichoke aficionado, declared that a dab of mayonnaise on the tip of the artichoke leaf was the only way to eat it. I actually like them either plain or with a little melted butter.
Although there are more proper and sophisticated ways of steaming your artichoke, I grew up in a home where we microwaved them. This is a quicker and more efficient method, though it does tend to leave your microwave with an old sock sort of smell.
What I do:
Depending upon how many artichokes you are cooking, select a suitable sized microwave safe bowl. Cut off the stem ends of the artichoke right up to the leafy bottom so that it can sit flat.
Put the artichokes in the microwave safe bowl and fill up the bottom of the bowl with at least a half-inch of water.
Cover with cling wrap or a microwave safe lid and microwave on high for about 15 minutes.
The way to tell if the artichokes are done is by gently pulling up on one of the leaves. If it pulls free without you having to tug on the leaf, it is ready to eat. If not, recover and put back in the microwave for another 5 minutes or so.
Once cooked, let the artichokes cool until just warm to the touch. You do not eat the whole leaf of the artichoke, just the fleshy part at the bottom and the way you eat it is by biting the leaf and then scraping the flesh off with your teeth. Kids love this part as they get to play with their food!
If children are eating the artichokes either caution them about the sharp thorns at the top tip of each leaf, or using a sharp knife, before cooking, chop off the top two inches of the artichoke and that will take care of most of the thorns.
Note: for those of you with chickens, save the discarded leaves as they love them (both cooked and raw)!
Once you have eaten all of the larger leaves you are left with the small delicate leaves that you can pick off a few at a time and fold or bunch so that you can nibble off the lower edge.
Now you are left with the artichoke heart. You will see the fuzzy or fur-like thistle center which you will want to scrape off with a spoon or fork to expose what I consider the best, most flavorful part of this vegetable. I like to describe the artichoke heart as almost nutty yet buttery (even without the butter).
This is the part that I love to actually dip in melted butter and I have often put it in the category of being similar to the choice part of a lobster tail dipped in butter. Yum! Enjoy!