When I recently learned that a friend of mine didn’t know how to cook a whole artichoke, I knew I needed to do a how-to post just for her. If you have never eaten a fresh artichoke, you have got to try one!! I LOVE them!

In California they were plentiful, and HUGE. But out here on the East Coast they don’t grow so well. The ones that you find in the stores here are usually puny and overpriced! Every now and then my grandma in California will bless us with some beautiful artichokes. And sometimes we get lucky and find some nice ones in the store. My husband had never tried one before he met me. Now, he’s hooked.

If you’ve ever wondered how to cook these funny looking veggies, or how they taste, this is for you!

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When you are picking out your artichoke, find one that is firm and packed with lots of leaves. The first thing you do after washing them is cut off the stem. Try to cut it straight across so that it can sit flat once in the pot.

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Next, pull off the little leaves that are on the stem and just around the very bottom. They won’t be any good to eat.

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Now, be careful. The tops have very sharp thorns.

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I like to take a knife and cut the tops off, just to get rid of those sharp thorns. Sometimes I also use a pair of scissors to trim off the tops of the rest of the leaves as well; they have thorns too.

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Put them, stem down, into a large pot in a couple of inches of water. Bring to a boil. And then, this is my favorite way to make it, pour almost a full bottle of Italian Salad Dressing over the artichokes. Drizzle it over the tops so that the dressing seeps down between the leaves.

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Turn the heat down to low-med., cover and let it cook for 1- 1 1/2 hours. You’ll know they are done when a knife will easily pierce all the way through it.

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We like to dip the leaves in mayonnaise. Delicious!! Simply peel the leaves from the outside in. Dip the bottom of the leaf into the mayonnaise, and scrape the meat off with your teeth.

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Only eat the pale yellowish part. The deeper you get into the artichoke, the more meat you will be able to eat from the leaf.

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When you get to this point… STOP! Pull the remaining leaves off, so that it looks like this:

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Now, get a spoon, and gently scrape off the thorns. Don’t dig in too deep, or you’ll be scooping out the best part… the heart!

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This is how it should look once you have cleaned it off. This is the heart of the artichoke. I usually trim off the stem from the bottom before digging in. Break it into pieces and enjoy!!

If you have a different recipe for cooking artichokes, I’m game for trying something new! If you try my recipe, I’d love to know what you think!!