Thursday, July 5, 2012

Steamed Artichoke with Lemon Dill Aioli

Artichokes in the summertime are one of my favorite side dishes to make. When I first started dating J, I made these artichokes, and he looked on dubiously, telling me that it seemed like "a lot of effort for not so much food." After tasting them the way they SHOULD be prepared, he was a believer. These are a very easy and convenient side dish that brings the South of France and the Mediterranean right into your dining room (or living room, in front of The Bachelorette, as it happens in my house).

Total time for these from start to finish is about 50 minutes. However, there is a lot of downtime after the first ten minutes, so you have plenty of time to make a main dish after you start these puppies. You can also make the aioli one night if you have some spare time and keep it in a tupperware in the fridge for a few days. 

What you will need:

2 artichokes, as pictured above (one per person served)
1/2 cup light mayo
1/3 cup light sour cream
1 tbsp dried dill
1/2 lemon
garlic powder
sea salt
black pepper

First things first, prep your artichokes. Some people go all the way and clip the tops of each leaf to get rid of the point. I just slice the stem so that it's short; about 1/2 of an inch from the base of the artichoke.

Put the 'chokes in a large pot and fill as high as possible with water. Put them on the stove and let them reach a low rolling boil.

Cover them with a lid and let them continue to boil slowly for about 30 minutes. Alternately, you could use a steamer and steam the artichokes; I'd love to do them this way but I don't own a steamer yet. They will first turn a bright green color as pictured above, and then turn a darker green and the water will become a bit green too. 

For the aioli, mix the mayo and the sour cream into a bowl together. It will be a lovely off-white color; taste this mixture first and make sure it suits your palate. There should be slightly less sour cream than mayo in the mix, but if you don't like the way it tastes, then fix it!

After mixing it together and making sure you like the base, squeeze in the juice of half of a lemon. Now, a trick on squeezing lemons to get maximum juice and minimum seeds. First thing you should do is roll the lemon on the counter, pushing down on it to loosen it up a bit, then slice it in half. And then, you should invest in the "lemon sock" (also known as stretch wraps). Behold:

A pack of these cost $2 or so, and they keep all seeds out as you squeeze your lemon. If you aren't using a citrus reamer, this is a great way to get your juice out.

After you squeeze in your juice, put your dill in (again, this is to taste; I've only given a baseline for what I like), and also put in just a pinch of garlic powder, salt, and pepper (all to taste). 

Mix it all together, and then toss it in the fridge to chill while you cook the rest of your meal.

After about 30 minutes at a low boil, your artichokes should be about ready. Stick a fork in the base of the artichoke; if it goes in pretty easily, then they are done. If you're fighting to get it in the base of the artichoke, not done yet; let it keep boiling. 

Once they are done, drain them and let them cool a bit, turned upside down so residual water comes out. Then serve whole with the aioli, and enjoy!

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