Think of artichokes and the Mediterranean basin pops up as the natural environment. A vegetable from Arabic North Africa, the Italians got them in Sicily from the Greeks. Then to the Avignon in Southern France, artichokes graced the garden of Henry VIII. They re-emerge in the New World in Louisiana with the French immigrants, and in California with the Spanish padres, all areas they still grown today.
The leaves are plucked off and eaten one at a time, then dipped in a savory sauce. Dips include melted butter or mayonnaise, vinaigrettes, Ranch dressing, aioli, flavored olive oils, even balsamic vinegar. You pull the petal through your slightly clenched teeth to remove the soft, tender flesh at the bottom of the petal. The remaining heart is then eaten after removing of the fuzzy inedible
fibers of “thistle or choke”.
Many cooks won’t tackle the whole artichoke in the microwave. But cooked one at a time in a measuring cup, makes the job a joy. If you wish to cook 4 artichokes at a time, place the prepared artichokes in an 8-x-8 or 9-x-9-inch Pyrex baking dish and multiply the garlic, lemon, and oil by 4, and add 3 to 4 minutes per artichoke. Another tantalizing Italian-style way with vegetables.
Cookware: 1-quart or 2-quart Pyrex or Anchor Hocking measuring cup
Microwave Wattage: 1,100 to 1,300
Cook Time: 8 to 12 minutes
Standing Time: 5 minutes
1 large or jumbo artichoke, rinsed
About 3/4 to 1 1/4 cups water
1 garlic clove, cut into 3 pieces
2 slices fresh lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can artichokes packed in water, drained
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained water reserved
1/2 cup mayonnaise or soy mayonnaise (Veganaise)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup mild tomato salsa (such as Pace)
Fresh whole wheat pita breads, cut into sixths
1. Cut off the stem flush with the bottom of the artichoke and 1 inch off the top. You will need a very sharp knife for the top, since it is tough, a chef’s knife or serrated knife. If you wish, using kitchen shears, snip off the thorny tips on the leaves, which make the artichoke very attractive.
2. Place the artichoke upside-down in a 1- or 2-quart measuring cup, whatever size fits better. Add water to 1/3 of the artichoke. Toss in the garlic and the lemon slices. Drizzle the oil over the artichoke. Partially cover with plastic wrap.
3. Microcook on HIGH for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the size of the artichoke, or until the stem end is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife and some bottom leaves pull out easily. The artichoke will still be olive green. Let stand 5 minutes then pour off the liquid. Serve hot, or cool to room temperature and refrigerate in a plastic bag. You can also cut the artichoke in half for individual servings. After cutting in half, use a spoon to scoop out the fuzzy choke.
4. To serve as an appetizer, prepare the Artichoke Hummus Dip. Place all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until smooth, using the reserved garbanzo water to adjust consistency for easy dipping. Serve as a dip for the leaves with pita bread. A great small meal.
Excerpted from Not Your Mother’s Microwave Cooking, by Beth Hensperger. (c) 2010, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.
Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2016
Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.