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Basic Artichokes

Updated: 7/25/22 7:59 pmPublished: 5/17/21

By Catherine Newman

Hands-on time: 10 minutes

Total time: 1 hour

Makes: 1 serving

Total carbohydrates: 13 grams per serving

Have you ever cooked and eaten an artichoke? If not, you’re in for a treat (assuming you like artichokes). Because while it’s true that if melted butter were involved, I would probably eat a sandal dipped in it, there is something so delicious about this giant greenish-gray alien vegetable. And yes, you’ve maybe read that they should be properly steamed, roasted, stuffed, or grilled. But I’m a fan of simple boiling them in salted water, which both amplifies their tender sweetness and seasons them perfectly all the way through. Try it! (Also, I’m not going on and on about how loaded they are with fiber and antioxidants ­– but I could.)

If you’re looking to:

Lower the carbs: Serve each person ½ an artichoke. (Cut it with a sharp knife before cooking and check for doneness at 25 minutes.)

Lower the fat: Serve the artichokes with vinaigrette instead of melted butter.

Lower the salt: Add less salt to the water.



1 artichoke per person

2 – 3 tablespoons melted butter per person



  1. Heavily salt a large pot of water – it should actually taste a bit salty, since this is the main way you’re seasoning the artichokes – and bring it to a boil over high heat.

  2. While waiting for the water to boil, use a serrated knife to saw off the top inch of the artichokes and trim the bottom off of the stem, then use a pair of kitchen scissors (or, let’s be honest, regular scissors) to snip the pointy top off of each visible leaf. Because artichokes are in the thistle family, there are actual thorny points on the leaves that can poke you unpleasantly while you’re eating.

  3. Put the artichokes in the boiling water, cover the pot, turn the heat down, and cook at a gentle boil until a leaf pulls out very easily when you tug it with a pair of tongs. This will likely take around 45 minutes (or an hour for really massive ones). If at some point the water has boiled away excessively, add an extra cup or 2 and turn the heat back up until it’s boiling again.

  4. Drain the artichokes upside down in a colander for 5 minutes or so, then serve with melted butter, livened up, if you like, with a squeeze of lemon.

To eat the artichoke, pull off a leaf, dip the bottom in butter, and the scrape the meaty part off with your bottom teeth. When you’ve done this all the way down to the teeny-tiny papery little baby leaves, you’ll see the fuzzy choke. Use a spoon to scrape it out, and then you’ll be left with the edible, delicious bottom of the artichoke (also known as the heart) along with the stem, all of which you can slice or pull into pieces, dip in butter, and eat. (Or Google “How to eat an artichoke” and watch a video like this one!)

About Catherine

Catherine loves to write about food and feeding people. In addition to her recipe and parenting blog Ben & Birdy (which has about 15,000 weekly readers), she edits the ChopChop series of mission-driven cooking magazines. This kids’ cooking magazine won the James Beard Publication of the Year award in 2013 – the first non-profit ever to win it – and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. Her book "How to Be A Person" was published in 2020. She also helped develop Sprout, a WIC version of the magazine for families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), as well as Seasoned, their senior version. They distribute over a million magazines annually, through paid subscriptions, doctor’s offices, schools, and hospitals. Their mission started with obesity as its explicit focus – and has shifted, over the years, to a more holistic one, with health, happiness, and real food at its core. That’s the same vibe Catherine brings to the diaTribe column.

[Photo Credit: Catherine Newman]

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