Artichokes always intimidated me. I could BARELY cook broccoli--taking on something with spikes just seemed foolhardy. But when artichokes started showing up in my Farm Fresh to You CSA box, I knew I had to woman-up and take care of business.
When I started trying to figure out what to DO with my artichokes, I realized that every recipe seemed to involve an aioli. I'm allergic to eggs, which means...aioli is just pretty much out of the question. Until I discovered Follow Your Heart Vegenaise (completely vegan fake mayonnaise!).
The following recipe is one I found somewhere on the internets, and originally it involved Meyer lemons--a sweeter, more expensive version of your garden-variety lemon. I did use Meyer lemons the first time, and BOY HOWDY is it worth it. If, however, you are unable to procure Meyer lemons, regular old lemons work just fine. And, if you use vegenaise, this recipe is VEGAN! I usually use the soy-free Vegenaise, but today I decided to try the Reduced Fat version and it was delicious--the full-fat stuff tastes just a leeeeetle more decadent, but if you don't wanna feel too guilty, Reduced Fat is totally the way to go. Pro-tip: go here for a Vegenaise coupon!
- 4 large whole artichokes, top 1" and bottom 1" stem removed, tips clipped
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (regular lemons)
- 1/4 cup extra-virigin olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled (or literally 10, if you're a big fan of roasted garlic and you don't have a boyfriend who will find your breath offensive SOMETIMES I REALLY LOVE BEING SINGLE)
- Heavy-duty aluminum foil
Meyer Lemon Aioli:
- 1/2 cup vegenaise (or mayonnaise if you aren't vegan or allergic to eggs)
- 2 tbsp. fresh Meyer lemon juice (regular lemon juice is fine)
- 1 1/2 tsp. finely grated Meyer lemon peel (or zest of a regular lemon is fine)
- 1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. sherry wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper (I prefer Maldon Sea Salt Flakes and fresh-cracked black pepper)
1. Pre-heat oven to 425° F.
2. Trim 1" off the stem of each artichoke, 1" off the top, and clip the tips off with scissors. If you immediately rub some lemon juice over the newly-exposed artichoke flesh, you'll prevent browning (for the most part).
3. Nestle each artichoke stem-side down in a bouquet of aluminum foil.
4. Slightly separate the leaves of each artichoke--just kinda stick your fingers in and gently wrench it open a little. Drizzle each artichoke with lemon juice and olive oil.
5. Press a clove of garlic into the center of each artichoke so it's entirely inside (alternatively...just stuff as many cloves of garlic inside as you possibly can YOU PROBABLY WON'T REGRET IT).
6. Sprinkle each artichoke with salt.
7. Close each artichoke up tightly in their aluminum-foil bouquets.
8. Place directly on the oven rack for 1 hr - 1hr 20 min, based on the size of the artichokes. Truly, you don't want to undercook the suckers, so be patient. These ones that I have pictured took the full 80 minutes. I have gotten smaller ones that were done at the hour, though.
9. While they cook, place the vegenaise in a small bowl.
10. Whisk in the lemon juice, lemon peel, mustard, and vinegar till it's all smooth.
11. Then, gradually whisk in the olive oil. This is where it's very helpful to have an assistant--Chance refuses to help, so I just kinda had to gently whisk while I added the olive oil so as not to rock the bowl too much. YOU DO NOT NEED TO ADD ALL THE OLIVE OIL. The more you add the better it will taste, but if you're trying to watch calories, this stuff tasted pretty good when I only added HALF the suggested amount of olive oil. So it's kind of up to you.
12. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and maybe more lemon juice. I like the Maldon because you can crush it up between your fingertips and dribble it in--rather than making the whole aioli salty, you get these little salt bursts that I love. And if you find it tastes too oily, just throw in some more lemon juice until it's got the right zing. Trust me, until you run out of ingredients, you really can't mess this up.
13. Refrigerate the aioli until the artichokes are done, then return to room temperature to serve (you just wanna get the chill out and return it to a dip-like texture).
14. When you get the artichokes out of the oven, BE CAREFUL THEY'RE REALLY HOT. Also, open carefully--they'll release a lot of steam. Then put 'em on a plate, spoon yourself up some aioli, and go to town!