Baby Artichokes are fun because with just a little trimming you can eat the whole thing. A Baby Artichoke is not a separate variety. It’s just a smaller, and fully mature version of the traditional Artichoke. Its petite size comes from being picked from the lower part of the plant. Baby Artichokes are also easy to prepare, cook and eat because they haven’t developed the fuzzy portion of the choke in the center. Baby Artichokes are a seasonal size and availability does vary throughout the year, but the month of May is the peak volume month for this size Artichoke.
Start by rinsing and brushing off the Baby Artichokes under cold water. This will remove the natural thin film an Artichoke produces while growing that can give the choke a bitter taste.
Then, snap off the outer layer of petals of the Baby Artichoke until you reach the pale, yellow-green layer of petals.
With a sharp kitchen knife, trim off the stem and remove the rest of the dark green stem that can cause a bitter taste if not removed.
Cut about one half inch off the top of the Baby Artichoke. An optional method to preserve the color and prevent browning of Baby Artichokes is to soak them in lemon or vinegar water after trimming. Drain the Baby Artichokes when ready to use or cook.
Baby Artichokes can be made just like larger-sized Artichokes, but they don’t take as long to cook! You can even cut Baby Artichokes in half prior to cooking to promote a faster cooking time. Baby Artichokes are done when a toothpick or knife tip goes into the base of the Artichoke with ease. The following are some popular methods for cooking Baby Artichokes:
Steaming: Arrange Baby Artichokes in a steamer insert or basket in a pot deep enough to keep the Baby Artichokes above water. Cover tightly and steam over rapid boiling water until Baby Artichokes are tender. Depending on size and quantity of Baby Artichokes, steaming time can range from 15 to 20 minutes. Lift out carefully and drain.
Microwaving: Arrange Baby Artichokes in a microwaveable bowl with about 1-2 inches of water. Cover bowl with microwavable plate or plastic wrap and microwave on high until tender for about 10-12 minutes for 6-8 Baby Artichokes and 12-15 minutes for 10-12 Baby Artichokes. Keep covered and let the Artichokes stand for 5 minutes prior to serving.
Sautéing: Place quartered Baby Artichokes in a skillet or wok lightly coated with olive oil. Cover and sauté slowly on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes or until they begin to brown to your preference. Season to taste with salt, pepper and garlic.
Grilling: First, pre-cook Baby Artichokes by microwaving, steaming or boiling. Then, brush with olive oil and grill — turning frequently and watching carefully — over hot coals just until nicely browned. Option: Cut Baby Artichokes in half before grilling for bite-size taste.
Boiling: Add whole, trimmed Baby Artichokes to enough boiling water to cover the Artichokes. Cover tightly and simmer just until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes (time will vary depending on how many Baby Artichokes you are cooking at a time). Drain well. Option: Substitute vegetable or chicken stock for water when boiling Artichokes.