Steamed Artichokes With Basil Aioli

This is the classic, simple way to prepare artichokes. You may serve this with salted, melted butter, although lightly herbed mayonnaise is a nice way to bring out the artichoke's flavor. Other fresh herbs, such as mint or rosemary, may be swapped for the basil.

Steamed Artichokes With Basil Aioli i i
Nicole Spiridakis for NPR
Steamed Artichokes With Basil Aioli
Nicole Spiridakis for NPR

Makes 4 servings

4 large, tight-leaved artichokes

1 lemon

Salt

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil. Working with one artichoke at a time, pull off all dark green outer leaves until only tender inner yellow leaves remain. Cut off top 1 inch of artichoke. Cut off stem and trim around stem base of artichoke. With a spoon or melon baller, remove the fuzzy choke. Repeat with remaining artichokes. Squeeze lemon juice into boiling water, and add the artichokes.

Keep the artichokes submerged and boil until a knife inserted into the base barely meets resistance, about 20 minutes.

Drain and serve at room temperature with herbed aioli or melted butter — or both.

To eat, remove a leaf and dip in aioli or butter. With your teeth, scrape the meaty part of the leaf (and aioli) into your mouth, and devour.


Basil Aioli

Mayonnaise is slightly intimidating to make from scratch, but it needn't be. It just takes a bit of patience and fortitude. Here, the addition of garlic and fresh herbs perks up the familiar condiment, and is a delicious, slightly different complement to the steamed artichokes.

Makes 1/2 cup (easily doubled)

1 large egg yolk

1 clove garlic, chopped and ground to a paste

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup vegetable oil, combined

4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

Place the yolk in the bottom of a small mixing bowl and whisk until creamy. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, mustard and lemon juice and whisk vigorously to blend well. Then, whisking constantly, add a little bit of the combined oils at a time in a steady stream, whisking to create an emulsion between the yolk and the oil. Continue whisking until all the oil has been added (the aioli should be pale yellow and quite thick). Add the basil and whisk well to combine.

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