Steamed Artichokes

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 45 minutes

The best way to cook artichokes simply is to steam them, because you don’t have to wait for a big pot of water to boil and, more important, they don’t become soggy. Just make sure the pot doesn’t boil dry. Serve the artichokes hot, warm, at room temperature, or cold; they’re good any way at all.

You can add some gentle seasonings to the pot if you like: tarragon or thyme, onion or garlic, lemon juice or vinegar.

4 large or 12 small artichokes

With scissors or a large knife, trim the top 1/2 inch or so from the artichokes. Using a paring knife, peel around the base and cut off the bottom 1/4 inch. Break off the roughest of the exterior leaves.

Put the artichokes bottom up in a steamer. Cover and cook for 20 to 40 minutes. Sample an outer leaf; when it pulls away easily and its meat is tender, they’re done.

Drain them upside down for a minute or two longer before serving hot; store upside down if you plan to serve them later. If you like, scoop out the chokes with a teaspoon (see the illustration Trimming Artichokes, Version II). Serve hot with melted butter, at room temperature with vinaigrette, or cold with mayonnaise. Or serve at any temperature with lemon and/or olive oil and salt.