19 June 2008

{STEAMED ARTICHOKES –  ARTICHAUTS A LA VAPEUR} Artichokes are actually eatable flowers… which would explain their simple, natural beauty. I often find myself being wood by crates of these lovely globes, not only by their looks, but for their versatility in cooking. 

While the list of artichoke recipes is long & extensive (canapés, soups, salads, gratin….), simply steaming the choke & eating it leaf by leaf, dipped in a sumptuous vinaigrette- is a little bit of heaven. And it is here that the saying “It’s what’s in side that counts…” holds doubly true, as while the leaves are delicious, the piece de résistance, the whole reason for buying the artichoke in the 1st place, is for its tender heart.


  • Name : derived from the ancient Northern Italian articiocco (modern carciofo)
  • A perennial thistle from Southern Europe & the Mediterranean
  • 16th century: artichokes were reserved for men as they were considered an aphrodisiac
  • Origin thought to be in Italy
  • Over 140 artichoke varieties
  • Peak season April thought to June
  • Select dark green, heavy, artichokes with tight (not open) leaf formation
  • Freshness test: squeaks when squeezed. Avoid brown tips.
  • Store in the fridge, unwashed, sprinkled with water, in an airtight plastic bag
  • Health note: artichokes are a powerful antioxidant



  • Like asparagus, steamed globe artichokes can be eaten with your fingers!
  • Leaves : pluck each leaf off by pulling the pointed end
  • Dip the edible wider end of the leaf into the vinaigrette
  • Eating : put 1/2 the edible end in your mouth, and drag it between your teeth, scrapping off the flesh
  • The leaves will become progressively smaller, tender & white with purple tips towards the centre, and can often be eaten whole 
  • The Artichoke heart : is the centre or flower of the choke, covered in a thick bed of fuzzy, hairlike strands. Using your fingers or a spoon gently pry away the hairs revealing the edible choke, referred to as the ‘heart’. This is often the favourite part of the artichoke



  • 2 large GLOBE artichoke (Cynara cardunculus)
  • 400ml boiled water for steaming
  • pinch of salt


  • 6 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 11/2 teaspoons soya sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon Japanese mirin (or add a pinch of sugar instead)
  • ground mixed pepper



  1. Turn the artichokes upside down & tap the bottom to remove any unwanted guests!
  2. Rinse well under cold water
  3. Remove the entire stems leaving only 1cm
  4. Trim the small leaves at the base of the artichokes
  5. Some people prefer to cut off the very top 1cm of the leaves to remove the thistles. I do not like humiliated artichokes and AVOID this stage 🙂
  6. Boil the water in a kettle, pour about 1cm (1/2 inches) into a large, deep saucepan – you will have to top up the water level thought the cooking time
  7. Add the salt
  8. Place the steamer basket in the bottom of the saucepan with the artichokes on top
  9. Turn the burner onto medium-low heat, COVER the pot with a lid
  10. Cook for approx. 30 to 40 minutes or until one of the leaves pulls out easily
  11. Drain and sever upright in a round bowl, with the vinaigrette in a small dipping bowl on the side

Vinaigrette Preparation:

  1. Combine the olive oil and vinegar
  2. Next add the soya sauce, mirin,then the mayonnaise
  3. Mix until evenly blended
  4. Add pepper to taste

NOTE: Buying artichokes in Geneva means bending my steadfast rule “only by local produce”, as globe artichokes are unfortunately not grown locally and are imported from England & beyond. Someone said rules are made to be broken…..well only from time to time … cheeky I know!!!

8 Responses to “ARTICHOKE RECIPE”

  1. Jeena Says:

    Thank you for the great information. 🙂

  2. JEENA: You are welcome – I love the history and etiquette of food, plus the simplest way of eating a vegetable can often be the most delicious!

  3. sara Says:

    i love artichokes and thought i knew everything, i’ve even had 50 something stop me in the grocerry store, after observing me selecting an artichoke, ask me ow to preapre them. I thought everyone ate these, but it really isn’t true. Your post is great becuase it is educating , I learned quite a bit!

  4. SARA : what a lovely note to receive, thank you 🙂 I try to write posts where I can pass along informative / educating information that I have enjoyed learning. Knowing about the ingredients makes cooking much more interesting.

  5. Kristan Says:

    Artichokes are so under rated and very unassuming. The photos of this flower caught my eye first, but after that the detailed description of artichoke facts and etiquette makes me want to eat more. Who knew there was artichoke etiquette, fool that I am I have just been bitting into them and tossing the remains.
    I am currently in Thailand where artichokes are rarely used in dishes, but I think it would be fun to explore them with some of the Thai curries and spices. Great post!

  6. oh i adore artichokes! and now that i’m pregnant i can’t get enough of them. how interesting they are considered an aphrodisiac for men because i certainly think they work that way on me too. thank for all the great tips too ~ you’re so brilliant!

  7. STUDIO WELLSPRING : hi lovely, first congratulations, this is wonderful news. I will stop by your blog to chat. Hope you & ‘the bun in the oven’ are doing well 🙂 I am just back from holidays, so sorry for the late reply. I was in Provence and had wonderful Jerusalem artichokes with vinaigrette – delicious, think you would have liked them 🙂

  8. seasofsilver Says:

    yummmmmmm when I was young I would eat 2-3 at a time!

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