Artichokes: The Other ‘A’ Vegetable

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AaweekendherbbloggingAlcachofas.  Artichaut.  Artichokes.

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.)   Artichokes

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….

Artichokes with Aioli
The artichokes take about 45 minutes to steam. This can be done anytime and the
artichokes can be served warm or cold.

2 globe artichokes
lemon juice
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.

Homemade Aioli (blender methodArtichokecooked

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.

Weekend Herb Blogging was started by Kalyn, of Kalyn’s Kitchen over a year ago.  Check her blog for the details about participating and, don’t forget, What did You Eat, on Monday, for the recap.

Bon Weekend!

Last update on March 1, 2019

19 thoughts on “Artichokes: The Other ‘A’ Vegetable”

  1. In German: Artischocke. I have to admit, I never prepared them myself although I’ve won a cookbook with detailed instructions. Northern Germany isn’t the artichoke country.

  2. Beautiful artichokes! Did you know that the snail farmers here in California use fields of artichokes to “raise” the snails? Apparently, the little devils love the artichokes plants as much as we do!
    I sure do love aioli. Is it a bad idea to eat it with a spoon? I guess so. :):) Thanks for the wonderful post (as always)

  3. Ooooh, artichokes dipped in aioli — how wonderfully indulgent and sensual! Lucky for us here in northeast US, asparagus and artichokes don’t share the same growing season — in fact, we have very few home-grown artichokes here, which is why they are such a treat whenever we do find them in the market.

  4. Katie, you post just full of humor, I couldn’t stop laughing!
    Your artichoke head is so pretty, I will use scissor to snip next time!

  5. Would you believe I haven’t had even one artichoke yet this spring. I do agree about the poor planning. Who was in charge when all these things were decided, that’s what I’d like to know.

  6. I remember when I first went to college in California, I had never tasted an artichoke! I ordered one in a restaurant as a starter for something like five dollars, which seemed outrageously expensive! And I loved every bite of it…still do!

  7. Artichokes are heaven! I visited Castroville, CA once years ago, and it was overwhelming to see the many varieties — to be surrounded by artichokes. Fabulous.
    I love them best with lemon butter, but the aioli would be good, too. I’ve made that plenty of times, but I didn’t know that traditionally aioli didn’t include eggs. Either way — delicious.

  8. Artichokes are divine eating but my attemps at cooking seem to produce very poor results. So I’d love to try yours but won’t be doing them myself. When should I be over?

  9. Sher, I wich I could send them my snails – they attack my basil and lettuce. I’m comforted but the fact that it means I’m an ‘organic’ gardener… Of course, you can eat it with a spoon.
    Ulrike, they’re grown all over northern France, but, I guess we’re a bit warmer here.
    Lydia, we rarely found them in Minnesota, either – not even shipped in when we were still living there.
    Thanks, Gattina …and, yes, the scissors does the trick.
    Kalyn, we know it wasn’t a foodie gardener…
    Betty, I had my first one as a starter in California, too….memories….
    Lisa, aioli is everywhere in Andorra and Catalonia… French fries dipped in aioli – yumm. Lemon butter sounds good – next week.
    Friday will be fine, Tanna – see you then!
    CC – that’s me thought and I’m sticking to it!
    Anna, and the best part is the rosado – computer thoughts fade quickly

  10. Delicious Artichokes! Thanks for reminding us that they too are in season! I think they do get overlooked in favour of asparagus (and, here in the UK, they are very expensive). I love to dip the leaves just in garlic butter too. Delicious!

  11. We just made artichokes last night, had them with melted butter, which is what my husband likes. I like the simple French version of cold artichokes and vinaigrette, but this aioli, this will make me change my preference, I am sure. Good thing I have more artichokes in the fridge. Thanks.

  12. Lovely post Katie. We’ve been eating artichokes the size of one’s head for about 2 weeks now. I’ve got to try this aioli with them!
    So sorry I haven’t been around lately. I’m trying to catch up with all my blogger friends. So little time these days…

  13. The comment from “avery” was really Cyn…don’t know how my 14 yod got her name in my typepad acct.!!!

  14. I just finished an artichoke-chicken salad. I’ve never made then myself, just used jars and cans. They are still wonderful.

  15. Freya, Mary, we used to do butter and I’m not sure when we changed – must have been the years in Andorra. Spanish are rather maoy/aioli crazy!
    Christine, the artichokes must be awesome!
    VC – they’re so easy! Try it!
    Cyn, I’m confused….
    Mimi, They’re like asparagus: good both fresh and canned! (and easier canned)

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