Whether you find one that is the size of your hand or a larger one the size of a soft ball, give it a squeeze. If the artichoke feels solid, you've found a good one. An artichoke past its prime will be squishy like a child's squeeze toy. Make sure all the leaves are green. Don't buy an artichoke with brown or blackened leaves.
One person can easily eat one artichoke the size of your hand. The larger artichokes will feed 2-3 people as an appetizer or a side dish.
4 medium sized or 2 large artichokes, washed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup sweet butter (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Place a large stock pot on the stove on a high flame. Add kosher salt. Bring to a low boil. Cover.
Using scissors trim off the pointy end of each leaf.
Trim off the stems of each artichoke, flush to the bottom. Reserve the stems.
Trim off the top 1/4" of each artichoke and discard.
Using a chefs knife, cut each artichoke in half, from bottom to the top. Cut each half into two pieces. If the artichoke is large, cut those four pieces in half, creating eight segments.
Place all the artichoke sections and the stems in the boiling salted water. Cover and cook 10 minutes.
Cover the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper, a Silpat sheet or a piece of aluminum foil.
Using the pairing knife, test one of the artichoke sections. The knife should easily go into the fleshy part on the bottom of the leaves. If the knife doesn't go in easily, cook another 5 minutes.
Place a colander or strainer in the sink. Pour the water with the artichoke sections into the colander and drain.
Transfer the artichoke sections and stems to a mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Toss well to coat.
Arrange the artichokes and stems on the prepared baking sheet.
Place in the oven and cook 15 minutes. Using tongs, turn the sections over and place back in the oven another 15 minutes so they cook evenly.
If serving with melted butter (optional), melt the butter in a small saucepan being careful to avoid burning.
Remove the artichokes from the oven and serve while hot. Accompany with sea salt, black pepper and small dishes of melted butter (optional). Trim the stems down to the round center, chop and use in a salad.