Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Dish From the Garden

Artichoke time!

It's been a little slow-going with the chilly spring, but things are finally starting to be ready in the garden.  In honor of my artichokes being ready father's day, I made my husband (fabulous father to our dog and cats) a meal that centered around fresh garden artichokes.  The menu: grilled lamb, roast potatoes and artichokes with lemon-thyme aioli (aformentioned peach galette for dessert).  The lamb and potatoes came from the supermarket, but almost everything in the artichoke recipe that could come from the garden, did.

This is why I am a vegetable gardener.  There are few things more satisfying than looking at a recipe, then heading out into the garden to gather the ingredients.  It is amazingly gratifying.

So last Sunday, I took a look at a favorite recipe from Sunset magazine and went out to harvest.  I picked artichokes, thyme and lemons from the garden, then headed back inside.  In a few weeks I will be able to use homegrown garlic in the recipe, but the garlic heads aren't quite ready yet. 

The harvest: thyme, lemons, artichokes, pepper & strawberry

A note about artichoke eating - you know how the artichoke heart is the best part?  Well, the entire stem of the artichoke is an extension of the heart!  If you grow them yourself, cut off as much stem as you can and you'll have more tender artichoke heart to enjoy.

Without further ado, here is the recipe for artichokes with lemon-thyme aioli.

Artichokes with lemon-thyme aioli
adapted from Sunset magazine
Serves 2

for the artichokes:
2 large artichokes
1 lemon, juiced

for the aioli:
2 Tablespoons mayonaise
Juice of one half lemon (about 1/4 cup from our Meyers)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 teaspoons thyme leaves
A couple pinches lemon zest

1. Place a large pot of water on the stove.  Add the juice of one lemon to the water; add squeezed lemon halves to the pot as well.

2. Prepare the artichokes.  Rinse the artichokes well in cold water.  Slice off the top ~1 inch of the artichoke, then trim the sharp tops off the remaining leaves.  Remove toughest leaves at the base near the stem.  Slice just the very base off the stem of the artichoke, then peel the stem with a vegetable peeler.  Slice the artichoke in half and remove the choke.  This is the hairy center of the artichoke, with purple-tinged leaves.  I scrape it out with a teaspoon under cold running water.  Now slice the halves in half again, ending with chokeless artichoke quarters.  Place these in the pot of lemon-water.  Repeat with remaining artichoke.

3. Bring the artichoke-lemon-water pot to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, for about 25 minutes until the artichokes are tender (easily pierced with a fork).

4. While the artichokes are simmering, prepare the aioli.  Put mayonnaise and remaining lemon juice in a bowl, stirring well to combine.  Mix in minced garlic, thyme, and lemon zest.  Test for salt or pepper, if desired.

5. When artichokes are tender, drain them in a colander, then drain on paper towels (I skipped the paper towel step and ended up with water running down my arm all through dinner as I tried to eat my artichokes... oops).

Serve artichokes warm or at room temperature with aioli dipping sauce.  If you have leftover aioli, it makes a great dip for pita chips or spread for a sandwich!

Delicious Sunday Dinner

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