The 5 Minute Artichoke

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" Inspector Clouseau:  A woman is like an artichoke, you must work hard to get to her heart." The Pink Panther There are few foods I enjoy as much as an artichoke.  Growing up, when they were in season my mom served them up to the family on a weekly basis.  Of course, whenever I reached the "heart" of the artichoke, I was intimidated by all of the little spiky hairs (it's a shame my adjectives haven't improved since I was 12!!), and so my "gracious" parents always offered to finish off that part for me.

I was out of college before I realized that I had been had.  The heart is the best part of the vegetable!  I shudder to think of all of the goodness I gave away.

Alas, even knowing that, for years I rarely steamed fresh artichokes for myself because they took so stinking long to cook.  If I used my mom's method of cooking the artichoke, I'd have to steam them on the stove top for an hour.  I usually didn't have the patience to wait for that.

Then I discovered how to effectively use the microwave to perfectly cook an artichoke in 5 minutes.  All you need is an artichoke, plastic wrap, and a bowl just slightly larger than the artichoke.  After that, follow these easy steps:

Trim the bottom and top of the artichoke with a chef's knife.If you are serving the artichoke to guests, then use kitchen sheers to trim leaves that the knife misses.  THIS IS COMPLETELY OPTIONAL.

 However, it does look nice!

Next, rinse the artichoke in water being careful to leave excess water between the leaves. (This helps with the steaming process!!)

Wrap the artichoke in plastic wrap keeping as much water in the leaves as possible and put into a glass or ceramic bowl.  This is VERY IMPORTANT!  For some reason a physics person could probably explain, the artichoke won't cook properly if left sitting on its own or even in a large bowl.  Feel free to develop your own "theory" as to why, but trust me and use a bowl that fits!

 Cook for approximately 5 minutes or until a leaf from the center of the vegetable pulls out easily.

 At this point, your artichoke is ready to eat.  However, if you want to share this deliciousness with others, it's always nice to remove the "choke" part of the vegetable.    Fortunately, it's pretty easy.  Start by separating the inner core from the outer leaves by using your fingertips.