I love artichokes and artichoke hearts. However, I don’t eat them very often for a couple of reasons. First of all, I find fresh artichokes intimidating to prepare and eat. They’re beautiful to look at but I’m never sure what to do with all those leaves sticking out of them. I usually eat them as part of an antipasto platter or in dips made with jarred hearts. The second reason I don’t eat them is that I tend to focus on local produce in the summer so I don’t really think about them when I’m surrounded by local corn, tomatoes, peaches, etc. However, all of that changed yesterday at the farmer’s market when I discovered this: artichokes are grown in Ontario.
For some reason this surprised me. I’ve driven through Castroville, California which is the Artichoke Center of the World, growing 75% of U.S. artichokes. Naturally I associated artichokes with California’s warmer climate and it never occurred to me that they might grow here. I spoke to the farmer selling them and she told me that they are grown as annuals in Ontario (as opposed to perennials in California) and are started early in a greenhouse.
The ones I bought were baby artichokes, which are smaller and more delicate than full sized ones. Another surprise is that baby artichokes are very easy to prepare. Just trim the stem, peel off the toughest outside leaves, cut off the top 1/4 of the artichoke and steam the tender yellow heart. The website oceanmist.com provides excellent step-by-step photos and videos that are very helpful. Once you’ve steamed them, let them cool. Serve with a delicious lemony-garlic mayonnaise that pairs beautifully with the tender hearts. If you can’t find fresh artichokes to steam, serve the dip with jarred or canned artichoke hearts.
Lemon-Garlic Dip for Artichokes
Makes 3/4 cup
- 3/4 cup Hellman’s or Best Foods style light mayonnaise
- 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 small garlic clove, very finely minced
- Lemon zest strips, to garnish (optional)
- Toothpicks to dip artichokes
- In a bowl, add mayonnaise, lemon juice, grated lemon zest and garlic. Stir to combine thoroughly.
- Arrange cooked artichokes on a platter and pour dip into a side dish. Garnish with lemon zest strips if desired. Use toothpicks to dip the artichokes in the mayo.
Bon Appétit and Enjoy!