Artichokes first appeared in my life when I was about ten years old. My brother and I were sitting at the table and my mother set down a dish of steamed artichokes. I was of an age when a heretofore unseen vegetable aroused deep suspicion in me and I watched askance as the other parties at the table began dissecting what looked like strange alien fruits.
Learning that the proper method of eating artichokes involved pulling off the leaves and scraping the fleshy bits with one’s teeth did nothing to assuage my misgivings. Faced with the prospect of this unconventional style of eating and the foreign vegetable matter, I declined to participate. Even the prospect of dipping said vegetable into straight up butter did nothing to melt my resolve.
It wasn’t until much later that I learned to enjoy artichokes. I’m almost ashamed that my unfounded antipathy lessened only after discovering that I was quite fond of spinach artichoke dip. This also being after I discovered that I liked spinach, after all. Clearly, I was not an adventuresome eater as a kid.
Nowadays I can’t get enough of artichokes. Their distinct taste adds a lot of depth to dishes and they are such drippy, succulent fun to eat by themselves, dipped in butter or aoli. I suppose enjoying weird alien fruit is just one of the many perks of being an adult.
- 4 Artichokes
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- ½ C chopped Leek
- 1 clove Garlic, sliced
- 1 Bay Leaf
- ½" slice of Lemon
- approximately 4 C water
- Lemon-Thyme Aoli
- 2 Egg Yolks, large*
- 1 clove Garlic, finely grated
- ½ tsp White Wine Vinegar
- ½ tsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- ½ C Canola Oil
- ½ tsp Thyme Leaves, fresh
- 12 leaves Flat Italian Parsley, chopped
- Prep the artichokes by rinsing them and pulling off some of the tough outer leaves. Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut off the spiny top of each leaf.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot and then saute the leeks and garlic until soft and fragrant.
- Add the bay leaf and lemon and then add water until it is about 2" deep (approximately 4 cups, depending on the size of your pot).
- Bring the water to a simmer and then place a steamer insert into the pot and place the artichokes on the steamer. Cover the pot, turn down the heat and keep the water at a slow simmer for 25 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of your artichokes. When the artichokes are ready, the the bottom leaves should pull away easily and the meaty part of the leaves should be tender.
- Make the aoli while the artichokes are cooking:
- Whisk together the egg yolks*, garlic, white wine vinegar, salt and lemon juice until pale and thick.
- Whisk the first third of the oil in ¼ tsp at a time. This may take several minutes. Slowly drizzle the remaining oil into the yolks, briskly whisking all the while.
- When the yolks are thick and the oil has been completely incorporated, add the herbs to the aoli. If you are not using it immediately, cover and store in the refrigerator, where it should keep for about a week.
- Serve the artichokes with the aoli and melted butter for dipping.