Monday, December 2, 2013

Decadent Artichokes With Garlic Lemon Aioli

There's one vegetable I tend to think of as decadent - the multi-layered, multi-talented, humble looking, relative of the thistle plant - the artichoke. Although I have no information or research to support this quasi-historic theorem, I suspect Cleopatra lounged upon great piles of brocaded cushions while ladies-in-waiting plucked lush, green, plump-ended artichoke leaves for the Egyptian beauty's enjoyment. 

Leaf by leaf, I'm sure old Cleo slid slick leaves through strong, white teeth separating soft, creamy nut-like flesh from the fibrous bract. With a flick of her delicate wrist, over her shoulder the discards would go into the waiting hands of yet another team of agile attendants! Talk about decadent!

Maybe that's not exactly what was going on along the Nile back then, but I'm pretty sure it's pretty close. Hmmm....I wonder when hollandaise sauce was invented? Bet that would have made the leaf catching quite the messy job!

One gorgeous artichoke!

Decadent Artichokes With Garlic Lemon Aioli

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 lemons, zest half of one and set aside, juice both lemons
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 artichokes, large, nice firm, full and green with no dry spots
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 cup water

Prepare the artichokes by snipping the spiky ends of each leaf off with a pair of scissors. Next, carefully cut approximately 1" off the top of each artichoke and rub with a cut lemon to stop it from oxidizing. Finally, using a teaspoon or a grapefruit spoon (this works best of all!), scrape out all the tiny inner leaves and the "choke," being sure to get all the fuzzies out of the inside all the way down to the bottom.

In a saucepan just big enough to hold 2 artichokes snugly, add water and the smashed garlic cloves. Add prepared artichokes to the pot along with the lemon slices and onion slices. Bring the water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and let steam 25 minutes to half an hour or until the tip of a knife slides into the bottom easily. 

Remove from heat, take the artichokes out of the pot and let drain and cool slightly. While the artichokes are steaming, make the aioli.

Add the 4 peeled and smashed cloves of garlic to a blender along with the egg and lemon zest. Whirl until smooth, scraping down as necessary. Through the hole in the top of the blender, add olive oil in a thin stream while the blender is running. Add the salt and then add lemon juice until the mixture is the consistency you like for dipping.

To serve this I like to plate the artichoke and pour the aioli into the center of each...that's why we hollowed out the centers! Garnish with a little tarragon or other pretty green herb like thyme or even parsley and serve!

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