Artichokes are on sale, people, get ‘em while they last! Actually, you can probably always get artichokes, but when out of season they’re either ridiculously expensive or just sickly-looking. Early Spring is the best time to find an abundance of giant, fresh artichokes.
Growing up we always had artichokes for Easter. And cardoons. Which makes a lot of sense now that I just found out they are both a type of thistle. How did I ever learn stuff before the internet?
Since I’m 100% Italian (Italian-Sicilian to be exact) my family always prepared artichokes stuffed with olive oil, bread crumbs, and LOTS of garlic. They were so delicious that way. Plus, we never had to worry about vampires.
After I married, my Irish/German/Polish husband informed me that he also loved artichokes. Oh, but he dipped the leaves in butter. What? I had never heard of such a thing. So, I tried it. Hello. Melted butter? Artichokes are, like, the lobster of vegetables.
Apparently, there’s a third group of people who like their artichokes with mayonnaise. Hmmm. Very interesting.
And, I suppose, there is a fourth group of people who don’t know what the heck to do with artichokes. Artichokes do have the potential to be quite intimidating to a first-timer. Made up of tough, thorny leaves with all that inedible fuzzy stuff in the middle. They don’t call it the “choke” for nothing. Yikes.
- Lay artichoke on a cutting board on its side.
- Using a very sharp knife, cut off the top ½ inch of the leaves to remove the prickly parts.
- If the lower leaves have sharp thorns you can cut off the tops with scissors and, also, remove the outermost leaves (I usually don’t bother).
- Cut the stem flush with the bottom of the artichoke and remove.
- Bang the artichoke face down a few times the help spread out the leaves (see note 1).
- Rinse out the inside of the artichoke with cold water.
- Place artichoke in a stainless steel pot face up in about 2 inches of water. Aluminum or cast iron will discolor the artichokes in a bad way.
- Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover.
- Cook for at least 45 minutes, until a leaf can be pulled out easily (see note 2).
I also wanted to experiment with this mayo idea. I thought maybe I could come up with something just slightly less indulgent than a dipping bowl filled with butter. I found a nice
fancy mayonnaise aioli recipe here that I altered ever so slightly. It’s delicious and it would be great with fries or sandwiches. When it comes to artichokes, I’m still a butter girl.
- ½ cup light mayonnaise
- ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 small clove garlic, pressed
- 1 small sprig of fresh basil, minced
- Measure all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together well.
- Refrigerate any unused aioli in an airtight container.
Finally, if you’ve lived such a sheltered life that you’ve never even encountered an artichoke before and need a major tutorial, well, here ya go.