Steaming artichokes in the microwave are much quicker than doing it on the stove-top, obviously. The slightly drier nature of the method, however, requires using the very freshest of artichokes to avoid a tough texture, especially of the meat on the leaves. Also important is the resting step at the end - the steam will still be cooking, and tenderizing, the chokes while they sit, so don't skip the resting, tempting as it may be!
To Microwave Artichokes
- Trim the artichokes before you cook them. At minimum cut off any browned or dried ends of the stems. Then be kind to your diners and use scissors to snip off the thorny ends of the leaves.
- Put the trimmed artichokes in a microwave-proof dish. Add about 1/4-inch of water to the dish and cover with a tight-fitting microwave-proof lid. The tight-fitting part is very important because it's the steam from the hot water that will help keep the artichokes from drying out and turning tough in the heat created by the microwaves.
- Microwave the artichoke(s) on high power for 4 minutes. Let the chokes sit for another 4 minutes still covered (I like to leave them sitting, covered, in a closed microwave). Check for doneness by pulling a leaf from close to the center of the leaves. If the leaf comes out easily, the artichokes are done; if there is resistance, continue cooking. If the artichokes aren't done, continue microwaving them for a minute at a time (letting them sit for an equal amount of time after each session) until a leaf removes easily and the flesh is tender.
To Serve Cooked Artichokes
Serve the whole cooked artichokes hot with melted butter, or let them cool to room temperature or even chill them and serve them with one of these dips for artichokes. Serving whole artichokes lets diners pull off leaves, use their teeth to scrape off the bits of meaty artichoke at the end of each, and then trim the hearts themselves. If you think that's just too much for your guests...
To Trim Cooked Artichokes
You can, of course, steam whole artichokes only to trim them down to hearts afterward. While it takes the time of cooking, it is much easier to trim a cooked artichokes rather than a raw one: Pluck off all the leaves, trim the fibrous dark green part from around the heart, scoop out the prickly thistly "choke," and you have a lovely cooked artichoke heart to use as you see fit!