When I was a child, I really didn’t like vegetables or any of the green stuff that my mum prepared. And on the top of the list were definitely artichokes.
However, as I became older, I slowly started to realize what I was missing. Now, I can not imagine a week without preparing and cooking that flower that hasn’t bloomed yet. Yes, artichokes are actually flower buds that haven’t bloomed yet.
If you recognize their full potential, you can help them to bloom in the culinary world. I assume that you already know that they are nutritious, just like any other food in this line. But the real question is “What do artichokes taste like?”.
Well, their flavor profile is often described as a combination of that of Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and celery.
But, if you really want to know how they taste, it is best that you continue reading.
What Do Artichokes Taste Like?
This question definitely can not be answered in one sentence. I am saying this because you won’t experience the same flavor and texture when eating artichokes raw and cooked.
Aside from that, there are various ways of cooking artichokes and every method has to offer something slightly different.
So, let’s dive in and see what those artichokes really taste like in both raw and cooked form.
Many people and some cooking experts tend to describe the flavor of fresh artichoke as a combination of celery and asparagus flavors.
Others say that artichokes resemble the flavor of almonds, more precisely unsweetened almonds.
And I think that is the closest definition of a raw artichoke flavor profile because they have a slightly bitter, nutty flavor without any sweet undertones.
Of course, that is the case with the popular green artichokes. Some other, less consumed types, like for example baby Anzio varieties, have a slightly sweeter taste that is also combined with nuttiness.
However, one thing is sure, raw artichokes have a much bitter taste than cooked ones, no matter what the type is.
When it comes to the texture of an artichoke, things are very much the same for any type. Generally speaking, all artichokes have a slightly crunchy texture that is quite fibrous.
But I have to emphasize that the exact texture depends on which part of the artichoke we are referring to. Artichoke parts include the choke, heart, stem, inner and outer leaves, as well as bracts.
The edible parts are the heart, stem, and leaves. The heart of the artichoke is the most desirable because of its flavor and texture, especially when cooked properly.
Its texture can be described as tender and delicate, with a slightly fibrous quality.
The inner leaves, on the other hand, are less tender than the heart of the artichoke and slightly crunchy. However, unlike the hard outer leaves, they are still edible, especially if cooked properly.
Finally, the last edible part of the artichoke is the stem. It is the most fibrous part of all, which makes it the most undesirable part as well.
As I already said, cooked artichokes are much more desirable for the majority of people because they are less bitter and the cooking process softens the fibers, making the veggie easier to chew.
Aside from that, when artichokes are cooked, they tend to release some sweet juices and that leaves your mouth with much more sweetness when you eat them cooked than when they are eaten raw.
The most desirable edible part, the artichoke heart, becomes very tender, almost creamy when cooked properly. It becomes the perfect combination of nutty, earthy, and slightly sweet flavors. Some even say that it takes on a slightly buttery taste.
When it comes to cooked leaves, their inner part is desirable because, just like the heart, it becomes more tender and more suitable for chewing. However, it still has that crunchy bite because it is firmer.
The flavor profile of the cooked inner leaves of the artichoke is also similar to that of the artichoke heart, however with one little difference. Aside from its earthy, nutty, and slightly sweet flavors, it also has a slightly bitter taste.
That is actually desirable for some people, which makes it an ideal candidate for various salads, soups, sauces, and dips. And it can be consumed simply as an appetizer alongside some sauce or dip.
Finally, the cooked stem of the artichoke is mostly similar to the inner leaves because it is also more crunchy and fibrous. Aside from that, it also takes on that specific bitter taste.
However, it is more pronounced in the stem than in the inner leaves.
What To Do With Artichokes To Enjoy Their Flavor?
As I already explained, artichokes can be eaten raw or cooked. However, below, you will learn what is the best way to eat artichokes raw, as well as what are the best ways to cook artichokes and how that impacts their flavor.
As you already know, raw artichokes can be eaten on their own. Some people actually enjoy the combination of bitter and nutty flavors, as well as their crunchy and fibrous texture.
But, some people just can’t stand that, but they still want to take advantage of the nutrition and health benefits that artichokes can offer. In that case, raw artichokes can be combined with some other ingredients.
First, they can be added to salads with, for example, young kale leaves and feta. Young kale leaves will add softness and that specific kale taste to your salad and the feta will add some saltiness and creaminess.
You can also add some sweet ingredients like cranberries or sweet currants to balance the earthy and nutty flavor with some sweet undertones.
With artichokes, you can make the popular antipasto salad and enjoy it with your favorite sandwich, as it is one of the best sides for sandwiches.
Raw artichokes can also be added to sandwiches, dips, and smoothies for some extra complex flavor. Of course, the exact flavor will mainly depend on the ingredients incorporated into each and every type of dish.
Steamed Or Boiled Artichokes
These two methods are the most popular ones when it comes to cooking artichokes because they are very simple to follow, don’t require too many ingredients, and bring out the best texture and flavor of artichokes.
All you have to do is to clean your artichoke and toss it whole in the steamer or in a pot of boiling water. After cooking it for about half an hour, all of its parts will soften and become much more tender with just a slight level of fibrousness.
The artichoke will also lose its recognizable green color and become slightly muted or dull green in color.
When it comes to flavor, boiled or steamed artichokes are still quite nutty, but they are less bitter and more sweet due to the released sweet juices during the cooking process.
I also have to emphasize that the flavor becomes milder when artichokes are cooked and some people prefer that.
But, if you want a stronger flavor, you can easily enhance it by dipping artichokes in vinaigrette, lemon juice, or butter.
This is certainly one unique cooking method when it comes to artichokes. Tossing those amazing greens on the flame will not just lower the bitterness and enhance the sweetness, but also add a delicious smoky flavor.
Many people find the combination of nutty, sweet, slightly bitter, and smoky flavors truly rewarding for their taste buds.
When it comes to texture, the artichoke heart will become soft and the texture of the outer layer will become tender as well, with just enough crunchiness.
That same outer layer will also become slightly charred, which is the trademark of most grilled foods and it fits with grilled artichokes perfectly.
These grilled artichokes can be used in a variety of ways. They can be served as a main course, appetizer, or as a side dish. In most cases, grilled artichokes are served alongside some dipping sauces to enrich the flavor.
Frying is also a very popular cooking method for artichokes. It is also very simple.
All you have to do is to clean your artichokes, slice them into quarters, and toss them into a heavy-bottom pan with some type of vegetable oil, like canola or olive oil.
Due to the caramelization process, your artichoke will become golden brown from the outside and sweeter due to the caramelization of natural sugars. Of course, the bitter flavor will also decrease.
Properly fried artichokes will be the perfect combo of a tender, moist interior, and a slightly crunchy, crispy exterior.
Just like with previous cooking methods, fried artichokes can be successfully paired with various dipping sauces that will enrich their flavor.
One interesting fact. Artichokes are one of the main ingredients in a popular Spanish dish known as Paella, one of the most eaten foods in the world, and it provides it with a healthy amount of bitterness.
What Do Artichoke Hearts Taste Like?
The Artichoke heart is the most desirable part of the artichoke because it has a quite tender texture that is just slightly fibrous.
The heart of the artichoke has a quite mild flavor, compared to the other parts, and the one flavor that predominates is nuttiness. Also, the heart is less bitter than the other part of the artichoke and it is sweeter when cooked properly.
What Do Jerusalem Artichokes Taste Like?
Jerusalem artichoke’s flavor profile is a combination of nutty and slightly sweet flavors and it is often described as a cross between a water chestnut and a potato.
When it comes to texture, Jerusalem artichokes are described as crunchy and firm. However, once cooked, they become tender and slightly creamy, similar to boiled potatoes.
Although they bear almost the same name, Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) and ordinary artichokes do not have much in common. Jerusalem artichokes are actually root vegetables.
Final Verdict On Artichoke Flavor
Most important facts about the flavor profile of artichokes, as well as the texture to some extent, have been presented in this article.
However, I will try to sum up the answer to the question “What do artichokes taste like?” in this last paragraph.
Raw artichokes have a flavor profile that is a combination of nutty and bitter flavors with their most desirable part, the heart, which is slightly sweet and more tender.
When cooked properly, artichokes stay nutty in flavor, become less bitter and more sweet, and they tend to have a more tender texture as well.