Baby artichokes are, in fact, the same variety as the full-sized artichokes. They are fully mature, but they are picked from the bottom of the artichoke plant.
If you carefully trim them, you can actually eat the entire baby artichoke whole (without having to deal with pulling off the meat with your teeth). You simply trim the bottom of the stem, pull off the few lower leaves, and trim off about 1/2 inch from the top (getting rid of the tough top parts of the outer leaves).
I decided to leave mine whole, because I like the ritual of peeling and eating an artichoke – but if you’re looking for a sophisticated and easy addition to a pasta dish, definitely try trimming them before cooking – you’ll be in for a treat.
Some other ways of cooking baby artichokes are: microwaving, sauteing, grilling, and boiling. Here is a great site that has more information on these little cuties.
Water, for steaming
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2-3 tablespoons of butter, melted (for dipping)
Cut off the very bottom of the artichoke stem. Steam the artichokes with water and lemon juice for up to 20 minutes. They should be quite tender at this point. Dip the leaves in melted butter and pull away the meat with your teeth. Eat the heart whole.
Baby artichokes are fantastic because they are so tender, and the center is so easy to get to! The heart is most of the artichoke, unlike normal-sized artichokes. You don’t have to make a terrible effort to get to the best part. Enjoy!