Seared Artichokes with Garlic Aioli
When artichokes are in season, they’re very affordable and we can each eat an entire one. But in the off-season, they can be as much as $3-4 each, allowing me to buy only two so everyone gets only one half of an artichoke and that’s when people get grouchy. The girls bicker over who has the bigger half and then turn their gaze to their parents’ plates and wonder aloud why both of theirs are smaller than ours. All the while, the husband peers across the table — fork at the ready like a native spear — continuously asking them, “Are you gonna eat that piece? Can Daddy get the rest off of that leaf?” I wish I were exaggerating.
Artichokes are ridiculously good for you. So once you get over their strange appearance and learn to avoid their prickly leaves, you’ll have found yourself a new best friend that’s high in fiber and antioxidants, good for your digestive system and has been said to even reduce the risk of cancer. Totally worth it and they taste darn good too.
Preparing an artichoke can take some time and forethought but once you’ve gotten it down, you’ll be a pro and will be making these all summer long. My favorite way to prepare them is to de-choke them raw, steam them and then pan sear them in olive oil. My basic steps for de-choking are to (1) trim the tips of the leaves to get the prickly parts off, (2) slice off a bit from both ends, (3) wash the artichoke by scrubbing the leaves and allowing water to flush through the leaves, (4) cut the artichoke in half length-wise, and then (5) very carefully, with a small, sharp knife, cut out the prickly-hairy choke from the center of each half, followed by a final rinse.
Then I throw the halves into a steaming basket over a pot of boiling water for about 35-40 minutes or until very tender but not breaking apart. Finally, I put some olive oil onto a large pan and place the halves face down until they’re seared golden brown. I then turn them over to brown them slightly on their outside leaves but that’s mostly for visual appeal. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and sea salt and if you want to serve them the way we do, dip them in the AWESOME vegan garlic aioli by Wildwood Organics.