Artichokes are intimidating. Staring down at the vegetable on the cutting board — with its fortress of leaves adorned with microscopic spikes ready to prick on each tip — it’s hard to know where to begin. This is one vegetable that will make you work for it, but once you uncover that tender heart, you will know that the effort was worth the trouble.To start, you need the right setup. Gather two large bowls, a cutting board, and a sharp paring knife. Fill one of the bowls with cold water, and squeeze a couple lemons adding the juice to the water (you can toss the squeezed lemons in the bowl as well).
The second bowl will be for collecting scraps. Start removing the outer, inedible leaves of the artichoke, letting them fall into your “scrap” bowl. You can then cut off the top third of the artichoke revealing the colorful, purple choke at the center of the artichoke (you may need to use a serrated knife for a clean cut).
Next, trim the stem of the artichoke, just for a fresh cut, but leave enough to hold onto for later when you are trimming the heart.
Slowly, trim the sides of the artichoke. You want to move toward the heart, but remove only a little of the outer layers at a time, so you don’t accidentally cut into the heart. Peel the artichoke as you would the skin off an apple. Once you’ve reached the heart (when you stop seeing individual leaves), use your paring knife to peel the stem.
Remove the purple choke with a spoon. Clean up the artichoke, and drop in the lemon juice water to prevent oxidation until you are ready to cook with it.
Angela Carlos is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Find her on Twitter and tweet @angelaccarlos.