The artichoke: nature’s finger food.
Au naturale. Simply steamed. Is any other plain vegetable quite so botanically romantic? Maybe it’s the delicately sweet flavor. Maybe it’s because they love cool, salty California air, like I do. Maybe it’s because you’re literally eating a dang flower! Whatever it is, sitting down to share an artichoke is something special.
Unfortunately, the things have a reputation for being a pain to prepare – their tough structures definitely need some cooking before they’re ready to melt in your mouth. On the stove top, you’re looking at upwards of 40 minutes of babysitting the pot, making sure the water level doesn’t boil too low. This is where Instant Pot comes in (affiliate link). With my favorite set-and-forget pressure cooker on hand, the task really isn’t fussy at all.
The trickiest thing about artichokes is that they seem to vary in their toughness. Some are a little fresher and more supple, and don’t need to cook as long. Others are extra fibrous and ornery, and benefit from extra cooking time. This time, mine were closer to the latter; if you’re worried about overcooking you can always start low and turn the cooker back on for a couple of extra minutes if needed.
If you need a crash course in eating the thing, I’ll refer to the experts. When you pluck the leaves, you can dip them in warm garlic butter or something mayonnaise-y. I dipped a few into Trader Joe’s Champagne Vinaigrette, which has a nice dijonnaise flair. Next time I’m tempted to try something like chimichurri or green goddess dressing. Be creative and have fun with it!
It’s just such a delight to serve up a steamy artichoke as a first course – a simple luxury. Now that I know how easy it can be, I’m seeing a lot more of them in my future. There’s no reason to save it for special occasions!