globe artichokes with lemon aïoli

artprepared

Fresh globe artichokes are a relatively new addition to the dinner rotation at our house. Whilst I’ve always loved the tender sweetness of preserved artichoke hearts in jars, the fresh version just seemed too messy and time-consuming to prepare.

However, whilst wandering my local market last week, I spied a pile of glossy green artichoke buds. Their purple-flecked exteriors and squeaky fresh petals were dripping with the dew of harvest. They were too beautiful to resist, so I quickly squirreled two into my shopping basket. I carried them home, wrapped in paper, with no distinct plans for preparation.

artichoke1artupsidedown

Two days later, the artichokes were still neatly wrapped in the corner of my fridge crisper. I caught sight of a torn petal that had oxidized in the refrigerated air. The browned surface inspired action before my artichokes transformed into mush.

Enter Google, a pen and paper, roasted almonds and rooibos tea. Click, scrawl, crunch. Repeat. By the time the final almond was crunched and swallowed, I had the bones of an idea: steamed artichokes with thick, lemon-infused aïoli. Simple and delicious, a perfect celebration of spring.

egg mustard

The pairing of artichokes with aïoli appears to be common across the fabric of the internet; where it originated, I’m not sure. However, after scraping the tender, sweet flesh off each petal with nothing more than my teeth, I felt like I was sitting on a cobbled street somewhere in Southern Italy. Each bite was more buttery, earthy and delicious than the last, beautifully accompanied by creamy olive oil, garlic and lemon aïoli.

eating

As the debris piled higher on my plate, the tough outer petals, fibrous stems and fuzzy choke gave way to the sweet, soft artichoke heart.

Aaron and I ate these the following day, sliced into wedges and crisped in a pan with smoky pancetta. A drizzle of lemon oil, some cracked pepper and parsley was all that was needed for a deliciously satisfying dish. We ate ours with aïoli-drizzled new potatoes, as the leftovers were too good to waste; however, I’m already imagining it piled high upon smoky, charred ciabatta. Next time.

debris2 chokeport

When choosing an artichoke, look for one that is bright green with a tight petal formation. A light squeeze at the head of the bud should yield a ‘squeaking’ noise that indicates freshness. Avoid artichokes that appear dry, brown or have split petals. Once purchased, artichokes should keep in the refrigerator for up to seven days (however, as with all vegetables, the sooner you eat them the better).

artcooked

Steamed Globe Artichokes

The recipe below was written for people like me, who don’t have a pot with a steamer basket. Your artichokes will half-boil and half-steam in broth (if you’re lucky enough to have a steamer basket, feel free to suspend your artichokes above the broth for maximal nutrient retention). *note: as artichokes are the immature flower buds from a North African thistle, I have used the word ‘petal’ to describe each individual leafy component. Occasionally, sources may interchange the word ‘leaf’ but rest assured, it’s one and the same.

  • 2 whole globe artichokes
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 smashed garlic cloves (I just hit them once with the back of a knife)
  • water

Wash your artichokes well under cold running water. With a sharp knife, remove the stalk, leaving 1cm from the base of the artichoke. I like to cut off about 2cm from the top of the artichoke for both presentation and cooking purposes (removing the top allows more moisture/steam to penetrate the internal artichoke) however this is entirely optional. I also use kitchen scissors to cut off the spiny tops from each petal; again, for aesthetic purposes.

bits3

Rub all of the cut surfaces on the artichoke with some lemon juice to prevent oxidization (the cut surfaces will start going brown immediately). Pull off any smaller petals towards the base of the artichoke as they will likely break off during the cooking process (they won’t have much edible flesh on them anyway).

Fill a large saucepan with about 2 inches of water. Add in the 2 cloves of garlic, the bay leaf and the other half of the lemon (squeeze the juice and then toss in the lemon skin). Place the artichokes in the water, base/stem end down. Cover the pot and bring the mixture to the boil.

artboil

When boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. At the 20 minute mark, carefully turn the artichokes upside-down and then replace the pot lid. Cook for another 20 minutes, or until the artichokes are puffed and tender (a petal should tear off easily from the base of the vegetable). Remove the artichokes from the broth with a slotted spoon, allowing excess fluid to drain away. Set aside to cool slightly before eating with aïoli (recipe and more ‘eating info’ below).

aiolijar

Lemon Aïoli

Makes 1 cup

Making aïoli is a very individual thing. Once you’ve mastered the art of a basic emulsion, you can play with different flavours to suit your individual palate. This version is a rather basic garlic, mustard and lemon aïoli with additional lemon zest. The quantities specified will result in a moderate-intensity aïoli with some garlic heat, the kick of lemon zest and some lingering savoury qualities from the mustard. I like it in small amounts with prepared artichokes; however, if you have a more sensitive palate, I’d switch half of the extra virgin olive oil for refined olive oil (which has a much milder flavour), reduce the garlic by half (you can omit it completely, if you like), omit the lemon rind and perhaps add in a sprinkle of fresh chopped herbs. I’ve also drizzled in 1 tsp of truffle oil with a heavenly result.

From experience, I’d recommend that you make the aïoli by hand, with a hand whisk. It takes a bit of elbow grease but you have far more control over the emulsion than if you use a food processor.

  • 2 large fresh egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • pinch of rock salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
  • finely ground white pepper, to taste
  • water, as required

Place your egg yolks in a medium bowl with the mustard. Combine vigorously with a hand whisk until the yolks begin to appear viscous and opaque; the mustard should be completely emulsified.

whisk1

Start adding your olive oil, one drop at a time (being as patient as possible pays off here), whisking well to incorporate. Ensure that each drop is well combined before adding another. Gradually, your mixture should start to thicken to a creamy, emulsified consistency (if the mixture separates, stop adding oil and whisk well until the mixture comes back together. You can then resume the process).

When all of the oil is added, you should have a very thick, mayonnaise-like mixture (below). Set aside whilst you prepare your flavourings.

aioli1

aioli2

With a mortar and pestle, pound together the garlic and salt into a paste.

garlic mortar

Add to the aïoli with the lemon juice, whisk to combine (add a splash of water if required, until the mixture is of your desired consistency. Taste, then season with salt, pepper and lemon rind.

Place your finished aïoli into a jar or bowl, then refrigerate until use.

aiolifin aiolijar2

Points to note: Add your oil slowly to prevent the mixture from splitting. As aforementioned, patience is everything if you desire a good emulsion. However, if your mixture does split, don’t panic: just get another fresh bowl, whisk an egg yolk in it, then gradually add in your separated mixture, a teaspoonful at a time, until the mixture starts to emulsify properly. Whisk in any oil that you have left.

eating2 eat2

To eat your glorious creation: tear off a petal from the artichoke, then dip it into a little bit of creamy aïoli. Scrape the flesh off the leaf with your teeth, sucking up any juices. Discard the fibrous component of the petal, which is inedible. Repeat until all of the petals are gone.

Towards the centre of the artichoke, you’ll notice a soft, meaty base (the artichoke ‘heart’) and a fuzzy, fibrous core or ‘choke’. This needs to be carefully scooped out with a spoon, as per the images below (it’s pretty easy, but here’s a video from Ocean Mist Farms if you need a little extra assistance).

artichokeheart

chokels choke

When choke-free, you can cut the heart into little wedges and eat each with a tiny bit of aïoli (or alternately, smother it onto garlic-rubbed charred ciabatta with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, some black pepper and parsley. Delicious).

bits2

Other great tutorials on preparation of artichokes:

*AND NOW… for something entirely different: you may or may not be aware that my husband, Aaron, works in design, illustration and 3D animation. He’s just updated his website MonsterBot. Click over to say hello (want something illustrated? Ask him!) and see some pretty pictures/videos here. Some of his artwork is also available for sale here (quality art prints, iPhone/iPad covers, textiles, hoodies and t-shirts, pillows, bags).

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98 responses

    • Thanks UPC! It’s been ages since I’ve eaten Jerusalem artichokes… I need to get back into cooking them. They’re definitely a bit simpler to prepare. I’ll try them with the aioli like you’ve suggested :)

  1. I always find it helpful when you give tips on how you select produce. The basics are fairly easy, but if you want to branch out from potatoes, celery, carrots, et cetera, it helps to know small things like “squeaks.” Thank you.

    • Haha, they really do! Give it a try when you’re next at the market. I read it somewhere on the internet but it basically ensures that the leaves are tightly packed and still tender (as it’s impossible to see inside the artichoke). Good luck buddy!

  2. i love artichokes in restaurants, but i’ve always been nervous about making them on my own… might just get over that fear. but this post on the kitchen counter and then follow it step-by-step :)

    • I definitely understand the fear, I had the same feeling. They’re a bit of a strange vegetable; so much of the artichoke is inedible! It’s definitely worth the effort though. Pretty easy once you’ve got a clear plan for preparation :) Hope that the instructions help lovely! xx

    • Oh that sounds delicious Ruby! Yum. I’ve never tried it with garlic butter but I do think it’d be just as good (and easier!) as the aioli. They’re such fun to eat, too :)

    • Hahaa, you’d be very ‘fragrant’ afterwards :) It was gorgeous though, really creamy and delicious. I am a sucker for aioli, particularly with hot chips. Mmmmm, makes me want some right now! xx

  3. Again, Laura .. your photos convince me that I would love to have this … but this is something I can’t find anything great about.
    Have cooked the so many times and tried to eat them too, but for me they don’t anything more than hard work. So I enjoy your beautiful photos instead .. and my pick has to be the aioli jar .. with the spill on the edge – so cleverly done and the photo is stunning delicate. I love aioli so next time I will try your recipe. How is the food styling going ????

    • Hello Vivi… I can definitely understand that this recipe isn’t for you! I do think that artichokes aren’t for everyone. When I gave Aaron a petal with some aioli on it he said, ‘it’s ok, but I couldn’t eat a lot of it’. I’m a fan of strong flavours and I’ve always loved artichokes so it wasn’t a big step to cook them at home. However, it’s too much bother if you don’t love them in the first place! Thanks for the lovely words about the photos! Hm, the food styling is just for the blog at present. I am so busy with my day job. It’s in the back of my mind though, hopefully one day *sigh* xx

    • Hello lovely! It’s heaps of fun to do. Artichokes seem a little intimidating (as there’s so much inedible stuff within them) but steaming them really isn’t much effort at all. Give it a go if you like artichokes (and aioli!). The aioli turned out so much better than shop-bought. I loved it xx

    • Hahaa, I can imagine! Aaron hadn’t eaten fresh artichoke before either, I think it’s a common experience. I’ve never served them at a dinner party but I’d love to one day. Sounds like heaps of fun! xx

  4. Another fantastic post! Thank you :) I love the way you write, and love the fact that the idea of prepping artichokes scares most people and not just me.

    • Thanks Matt, I appreciate it. Yep, you’re right… they’re quite intimidating for the uninitiated! So much of the artichoke is inedible, but I think I’ll be steaming them from now on rather than just trimming them down to the heart. Scraping the flesh off the petals is laborious but awesome at the same time :)

  5. Thanks for the artichoke tips on how to choose nice fresh ones! I love artichokes and actually don’t cook them much. I shall have to soon :) Let me tell you a true story. When I was living in the UK, my neighbours were a couple from New Zealand: pharmacist & school teacher. On a trip to France they discovered artichokes, fell in love with them, then started going to all these artichoke meetings in France and Spain. They bought me and my Spanish friends back a video on cultivating artichokes to translate. We couldnt translate a word because it was all so technical about agricultural methods, so funny! They ended up going back to New Zealand to pursue starting an artichoke plantation. I’ve unfortunately lost track of them now, but I always wondered whether they ended up doing it. xx

    • Hi Sofia! Haha… I can’t believe that they became so obsessed about artichokes. I love them too, but I’d never consider starting a plantation (sounds like heaps of hard work!). It’d be interesting to see if they pursued their dream back in NZ. I imagine that it’d cost quite a bit of money to start. There are very few artichoke farmers here in Australia; mostly as the industry took ages to become profitable. I still think that most Aussie domestic cooks (other than those of Italian/Greek background etc) have never prepared a fresh one. It was fun though, I’d definitely do it again! xx

  6. The artichoke and aioli is a real treat. Great tips for making the artichokes and I like your aioli recipe, like me you go light on the garlic. Artichokes are so good, I love dipping in a simple vinaigrette also, or lemon and butter. Oh, now I want one.

    • Thanks so much Suzanne! Yeah, I think it was garlicky enough with a couple of cloves… I can’t believe how much garlic some people put in (I guess roasting the cloves would help take the edge off, but… well, still pretty overwhelming). Dipping into vinaigrette or lemon and butter sounds so, so good. I’ll have to try that next time! xx

  7. I kind of like artichokes but am not passionate about them as many people are but boy oh boy that aioli of yours … it looks incredible an so very tempting and so very inviting to have artichoke leaf dipped into it. Beautiful job Laura!

    • Aw, thanks so much Azita! It was pretty labour intensive to make the aioli by hand but I was so pleased with the end result! Made eating it even more rewarding. Aaron feels the same way about artichokes as you… he’ll eat them if I prepare them but he’s never one to ask for them on the table. Makes a nice change though :) xx

    • Hello lovely Sawsan! Definitely give it a go one day! They’re pretty delicious but strong in flavour. I love them but my husband could take them or leave them :) I think preparing fresh artichokes intimidates most people. I definitely felt a little uncertain about the inedible bits but it was all worthwhile in the end. Very delicious. Good luck! xx

  8. this looks absolutely beautiful! i really like artichokes but have never cooked them – like you, i’ve always just thought that they were a bit too much bother. however, this is a VERY convincing post :) and i love a lemon aioli, i imagine it’d pair wonderfully with the aritchoke flavour. really great & interesting post, thank you! :)
    the hobbit kitchen x

    • Hello Holly! Thanks so much for the lovely comment. Haha… I definitely understand your feeling about artichokes being too much ‘bother’. I felt the same until I tried cooking them at home. There’s a lot of inedible rubbish left over but the process of eating them makes it worthwhile. Good luck if you give it a go! xx

    • Hahahaa, you can definitely try! It’s one of the hazards of reading food blogs… happens to me ALL the time. Darn it, when will then invent a computer monitor that delivers stuff? x

    • Thanks so much Radhika! The brined hearts (or the ones in olive oil) are really, really delicious. In some ways they actually taste nicer, but preparing a fresh artichoke and eating it ritualistically is so much fun. Try it one day, if you can track down an artichoke! xx

    • Definitely, I ended up with heaps more than was actually needed for the artichokes… great with raw carrot sticks, cucumbers, hot chips (drool… so good!) and even drizzled over boiled potatoes. Yum! xx

  9. Aren’t these jumbo artichokes the best? I admit it’s been a while since I bought some. I’ve been a bit distracted by using the “baby” ones in pasta dishes. Still, there’s something about sitting at a table with family and/or friends when globe artichokes are served. You know it will be a relaxed meal, with plenty of conversation. And that aïoli of yours sounds fantastic. I am definitely going to steal … er … borrow the recipe, Laura, and spring it on my friends. Thanks for sharing both with us.

    • I definitely understand the obsession with baby ones. In a lot of ways they’re more delicious, easier to prepare and just aesthetically beautiful! I haven’t seen fresh baby ones over here… just brined or cured in olive oil. So delicious. Was heaps of fun to eat the larger globe artichoke though. I love the ritualistic nature of opening it up and eating it bit by bit. Even the pile of debris was fun :) Hope that you enjoy the aioli John!! It’s so satisfying when all that whisking results in a nice bowl of creamy heaven!

    • Thanks Uru. Definitely try it… well, if you can’t be bothered with the artichoke, just make the aioli and eat it with a giant bowl of crispy, hand-cut chips. So, so good. Mmmm! xx

  10. I adore artichokes but haven’t bought them for a long time. Thanks for the reminder. LOVE the idea of dunking those gorgeous petals into home-made aïoli. What a talented couple you and your hubby are! Very impressed by Aaron’s animation work – look forward to showing it to my boys in the morning (they’re going to love letter-posting man too)!

    • Oh, thanks so much Saskia! Your encouragement means a lot. Aaron’s still growing his website. I kept bugging him as to when I could advertise it (haha, I’m his biggest fan!) but it’s a bit of a mash-up of his uni work and post-grad work at present. I am so, so proud of him. Starting out as an artist is freaking difficult! xx

    • Hahaa… you do exactly the same to me Mackenzie!! I am a huge fan of aioli too. I could just eat it for dinner with a bowl of crispy, hand-cut chips. Mmmm, I might just do that with the leftovers tonight! xx

  11. Artichokes and aïoli are such a great combo. Nice, simple, luxurious. What could be better? Lovely photos and post – thanks.

    • Thanks so much Pamela! Haha, I just finished my other post and you and your soybeans feature in it! Well, sort of. I could only get frozen edamame over here *sob*. Still yummy though xx

    • Thanks so much Anna, I appreciate it. I love simple food, so something like this was right up my alley on a relaxing afternoon. It’s a plus having leftover aioli, mmmm :)

    • Hello lovely Rika. I’ve never eaten a globe squash… what is it? I love finding new vegetables so it’d be very cool to try the globe squash (particularly if it tastes good with aioli, I am obsessed with it) xx

  12. Really lovely images and words! Particularly beautiful is that lone yolk in the beautiful little ceramic bowl. The instruction is helpful too, as artichokes can be admittedly intimidating or “too much trouble” if you don’t know where to start. Thanks for this!

    • Thanks so much Irina! I appreciate it hugely. That little earthenware bowl was made by a very old woman in the country town of Margaret River, down South of my hometown of Perth. She was making them as a bit of side income to her pension. I ended up taking home three as I loved them so much! xx

  13. I’ve never cooked with these little fella’s either, (despite thinking they are delicious.) First time I ever tried one, nobody explained to me that you run your teeth over the leaves to get the good stuff… Half an hour later while still chewing on the same leaf I finally cottoned on.

    • Hello lovely Brydie. Ah, dear… yep. So much of the artichoke is inedible! It’s a huge amount of bother (or frustration for the uninitiated!) but completely worth it if you like artichokes in the first place. Not sure that Aaron thought it was worthwhile but I’ll definitely buy them again xx

    • Yes, definitely glad that I gave it a go! You know what? I was looking for a saffron mayo recipe but got a bit sidetracked with the idea of making aioli. I’ll try the saffron mayo next time! Thanks David.

  14. Gorgeous photos, and I love the “Click, scrawl, crunch. Repeat.” routine. I SO do this.
    Globe artichoke is such a French thing for us – whenever we go there dad wants to buy one and we dip the leaves in melted butter, but I love the idea of your trying your aioli. You’re super restrained to save the heart for the next day though. I’m like nom nommmm eat it all now nomnom.

    • Haha, I guess it must be a blogger thing. It’s my regular when I’m planning recipes! It’s been ages since I last went to France. I actually didn’t eat an artichoke over there but I’ll have to do it next time…. melted butter sounds soooo good with the artichoke petals. Yum. I just made aioli as I’m completely obsessed with it. I’ve had huge amounts of fun digging into the remainder of the jar… :) xx

  15. Fab pics.. I’ve never been game enough to cook my own artichokes. Cheers

    PS I’ve got my very first ever giveaway running over at Carole’s Chatter. Hope you stop by.

    • Thanks so much Carole, I appreciate it. It’s easy to cook them once you know how! Re the giveaway, thanks. I’ve never done one before either but very exciting idea! xx

  16. Gorgeous photos and such a lovely story to go with it! I have an artichoke languishing at the bottom of my fridge as I type this… I now know what I must, nay, need to do with it! Thanks for stopping by my little patch of the nets, I look forward to meeting you in Perth!

    • Thanks so much Anna. Definitely, definitely cook the languishing artichoke! Mine sat for a couple of days too (as I explained in the post) as they seem so bothersome… but it’s all worthwhile when you tuck in. Looking forward to meeting you too. Not long to wait now! xx

    • Hello there lovely! So nice to hear from you. I hadn’t tried an artichoke prior to a few years ago, so I’m still learning. It was heaps of fun to make and eat…. such a rustic experience! xx

  17. It’s taken me a while to get here but I had to come see your aïoli and artichokes, Laura. We love those things. When we were living in Egypt last year they were so cheap that we gorged. I stuffed them with shrimp or grilled them then marinated them but mostly we ate them steamed with garlic butter. (If you do a search for artichokes on my blog, you’ll find the first two recipes.) If I ever find some affordable ones here in Dubai, I am definitely trying them with your homemade aïoli.

    Oh, most importantly, I discovered by watching Jamie Oliver one time that a lot of the stem is edible as well. He suggests looking for artichokes with partial stems still on and peeling them as you would a tough asparagus. Delicious and that gives you more to eat. I always used to cut them off flush. What a waste!

    • Oh wow… stuffed with shrimp and grilled? Sounds so, so good. Artichokes are still a few dollars each over here so I’ve been sparing with my purchases. A few people have mentioned the garlic butter idea though, so I think I’ll try that one next! Re the artichoke stems, I did read somewhere that they were edible. I didn’t attempt it for this post but I will definitely eat the stem flesh next time. I love Jamie Oliver, he’s one of my food heroes. Thanks Stacy, I look forward to seeing the shrimp recipe on your blog too. Mmmm, yum :) xx

  18. Love stuffing them too (like stacy does) ! I stuff mine with a white bean salad dressed in a lemony vinaigrette. But your aioli sounds wonderful. Thanks so much for posting. We’re flooded with squash right now with fall all around us, but your blog is making me yearn for spring :-)

    • Oh yum, I love squash. I haven’t eaten any for ages but I’ve been enjoying all of the squash and pumpkin recipes from the northern blogisphere! I need to try that white bean salad stuffing. Sounds so divine x

  19. I love a meal where you have more on your plate at the end than what you did when you started. Artichokes, the gift that keeps on giving… and what a divine gift they are. These look gorge and I could take a bath in that Aioli.

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