I first saw an artichoke plant while wandering through a botanical garden in Spain. Have you ever seen one? Quite a prickly beast, and I do mean beast! Since then, I’ve become obsessed with the idea of growing my own, even though Colorado isn’t exactly known for artichokes. I’m cornering off a little–okay–sizable corner of my garden for the beast to expand. I dream of little shop of horrors style plants, arms reaching out, prickly mouths open wide.
Eating an artichoke is a religious experience. Don’t talk to me, and don’t give me a napkin. Just let me pluck and dip and scrape and savor. They make me so food-protective that I have to make more than anyone in my household could ever eat in a night. Here’s your artichoke (if you don’t eat it all, I’ll finish it off), and here are my artichokes. You may have all the aioli you would like (I made an inhuman amount so that you would not eat my share.
Back in the day, I started making artichokes the way most do, by boiling them in salted water (play disappointing music here). Why would I want to infuse my artichoke with nothing? Then, I steamed them in water with lemons and garlic. Meh. The first time I roasted an artichoke, I thought, Now we’re talking!.
My newest method involves roasting the artichokes face down with a garlicky olive oil mixture, and then pouring enough white wine or vermouth into the bottom of the pan to steam the artichokes at the same time. The artichokes become more tender, and in the end, that means more artichoke to eat! I hope you enjoy luxuriously plucking, dipping, scraping, and savoring as much as I do.
White Wine Steam-Roasted Artichokes With Garlic and Cherry Tomatoes
- 2 large artichokes
- 1 head garlic, cloves peeled and minced
- 3 lemons
- 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (about a cup), halved if large
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup white wine (or dry vermouth, or broth)
- 1/3 cup additional water or broth
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons dried italian herb mixture
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375˚F.
Prepare the artichokes:
Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the juice of one of the lemons, about 2 tablespoons. Cut off the top inch of one artichoke, and the bottom of the stem, leaving an inch or so of the stem intact. Using kitchen scissors, cut off the tips of the leaves. Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise. Place one half in the acidulated water while you work with the remaining artichoke.
On a cutting board, smash the garlic and one teaspoon of the salt into a paste using the side of a chefs knife. Put the garlic paste into a small bowl. Juice one of the remaining lemons into the bowl. Cut off the peel of the remaining lemon (top and bottom first, then cut off the sides in sheets, making sure to remove the white pith). Chop the peeled lemon, discarding the seeds, and add to the bowl. Add the olive oil, dried herbs, crushed red pepper, and a few grindings of black pepper. Whisk everything together.
Rub every surface of each artichoke half with the garlic oil mixture, making sure to push some of it in between the leaves. Arrange the artichokes face down in a dutch oven (a roasting pan or casserole dish will work too). Scatter the cherry tomatoes over top, and use your fingers to toss them around, trying to coat them with some of the oil mixture that has settled in the pan. Pour the white wine or vermouth into the bottom of the pan along with the additional 1/3 cup broth or water.
Roast, covered, in the oven at 375˚F for 35-45 minutes, or until the outside leaves easily pull away from the artichoke.
Serve with lemon-garlic aioli or your other favorite dipping sauce.
Lemon-Garlic (Cheater’s) Aioli
Sometimes (okay, rarely), I go through the extra effort to make real aioli. Most of the time, I start with a good quality mayo and go from there. This is just one of my go-to combinations for artichokes. If you like spicy aioli, chile-garlic paste. If you just want a little spice, garnish the top with a sprinkling of cayenne pepper.
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise (use vegan mayo if desired)
- 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 large clove garlic, minced and smashed into a paste (or finely grated, or pushed through a garlic press)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1-3 teaspoons Sambal Oelek (chile garlic paste)*, or 1/8 tsp-1/2 tsp ground cayenne
Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with cayenne if desired.
*Sambal Oelek can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores