img_2171Artichokes. Yes, another nomadic vegetable enters center stage. For those that have been following my recipe posts, it may appear that I am in to these lone-wolves of the vegetable kingdom. But being a lone-wolf myself, I so get them. Artichokes are cactus flowers with tight buds of prickly leaves, jealously guarding their soft tender hearts. They are thought to have arrived to the Mediterranean by way of Northern Africa with roots dating from as far back as 5th century B.C. I can’t imagine anyone—except out of sheer desperate hunger—coming upon these cacti and envisioning their edible potential. They aren’t plump ripe tomatoes where you’d immediately see the appeal. But I am glad someone took the initiative. img_2174Artichokes are intimidating to look at and even more so when trying to cook them. First you have to disarm them before you can eat them. Even through the cooking process, you’re still left unsure. Are they done? They say there is an art to eating artichokes, like eating Maine Lobster, you have to dig in with both hands. There isn’t a delicate way to go about it. And although they’re usually served as an appetizer— because they only render a scant amount of meat— grilled and dipped in this vegan garlicky aioli, I can eat 2-3 and make a meal out of them.

Recipe notes: What you will need: Immersion blender, kitchen scissors, a Pyrex baking dish, and plastic wrap. Yields 4-servings. Active prep time: 15-minutes including aioli. Cooking time 10-minutes in microwave, or 30-40 stove top, and 5-minutes grill. Difficulty level: Very easy.

Ingredients:

  • 2-1lb artichokes
  • 1-lemon
  • 2-Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4-cup water

Aioli

  • 4-tsp minced garlic (4-cloves)
  • 1-Tbsp fresh herbs
  • 1-Tbsp capers (optional)
  • 1-tsp anchovy paste (optional)
  • 1 1/2-cups mayonnaise or vegan mayonnaise
  • Pepper

Preparation:

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  1. Cut lemon in half.
  2. Remove underlying leaves from artichokes.
  3. Using clean kitchen shears, clip tips of leaves.
  4. Cut off tops of artichokes and immediately rub cut area with lemon to prevent browning.
  5. Split in half and squeeze a generous amount of lemon juice all over inner area.
  6. In baking dish add water, olive oil, used lemon halves, and arrange artichokes face down in dish.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 10-minutes.
  8. Remove and allow to rest keeping plastic wrap on till artichokes are completely cool.
  9. Insert kitchen knife in stem to check for doneness.
  10. If knife slips easily through stem, then artichokes are done.
  11. If steaming them, it will take approx. 30-40 minutes.
  12. Follow the same preparation as with microwave.
  13. Finish off on the grill for about five minutes.

Aioli

  1. Follow instructions for preparing vegan mayonnaise.
  2. Combine first 4-ingredients with mayonnaise.
  3. Season with pepper to taste