Regardless of what you call them, the other 'A' vegetable is nutritious, fun to eat and in season.
It's time for Weekend Herb Blogging, being hosted this week by Sher of What Did You Eat. Please stop by her blog on Monday to see the entire recap of herb and vegetable recipes from around the globe.
Everyone is playing with asparagus. I am, too. For the six or so weeks in the spring when they are both in season we eat all we can get!
(Not to be sacrilegious, but this is the second proof that god is not a woman: asparagus and artichokes both at the same time? And only for six weeks? Why not one following the other? Why not longer?
The other proof is that lettuce and tomatoes are not in season at the same time. I mean, come on! That's just really poor planning.)
Back to the artichokes: They were first mentioned in Italy in the first century. From there they traveled to Spain, and were grown by the Moors in by 9th century. A brief, uneventful foray into England in the 16th century (they were not a hit), and, finally to California with the Spanish in the 17th. They started to become widely grown in the 1920's but we have Marilyn Monroe to thank for making them famous, she was crowned Artichoke Queen in CA in 1948.
They are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and low in calories – unless you eat them with Aioli.
Ailoi or Alioli is not (as I thought until I got out one of my Spanish cookbooks) garlic mayonnaise. It's Catalan in origin and is nothing more than an emulsion of garlic, a bit of salt and olive oil. No egg. They've been making it for over 1,000 years so they ought to know.
For those of us who did not learn the technique (the entire frothy sauce is made with mortar and pestle) at grandma's knee, there is always the "inferior" sauce made using a (cough, cough) blender and an egg yolk. (Which then makes it a mayonnaise….?) Or you could, ahem, purchase it….
2 globe artichokes
aioli – garlic mayonnaise
Cut off bottoms of artichokes and remove any tough lower leaves. Dip in water to which a couple tbs of lemon juice has been added (to prevent discoloration). For a nicer presentation cut off the tips of the bottom half of the leaves – using a scissors. Cut the top 1/3rd of the artichoke off and discard. Don't worry about the choke (fuzzy hairs inside). Put in steamer and steam 35 – 45 minutes. Serve artichokes with small dipping bowl of aioli, pulling the leaves off, dipping and scraping the edible flesh off of the tough leaf with your teeth. Have a bowl for the discarded leaves and have a small, sharp knife handy so that when you get all of the leaves off and are at the fuzzy choke you can cut it off and enjoy the bottom.
Aioli – garlic mayonnaise, can be found in the gourmet section of most supermarkets.
4 large cloves of garlic, peeled
1/3 tsp salt
1 large or 2 small egg yolks
2/3 cups good extra virgin olive oil
Place garlic and salt in mortar and mash until you have a thick, smooth paste. Scrape it all into a blender. Add egg. Turn the machine on and, very slowly, drizzle in the olive oil, blending until you have the right consistency.
Now, find a lovely terrace, pour yourself a glass of chilled rosado, and, leisurely, nibble on your artichoke as you watch the sunset.