Twice As Nice Artichokes

Now's the time to indulge in artichokes with artichoke aioli.
Now’s the time to indulge in artichokes with artichoke aioli.

Who grew up eating artichokes, leaf by leaf, dunked into Best Foods mayonnaise?

Show of hands, please.

If you’re a native Californian like me, no doubt you did from childhood on.

“Twice As Nice Artichokes” riffs on that favorite combo by grilling the artichokes after first boiling to give them pretty charred edges, then levels up plain mayonnaise by mixing it with garlic, lemon, parsley, and marinated artichoke hearts.

The recipe is from the cookbook, “Malibu Farm Sunrise to Sunset: Simple Recipes All Day” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy.

The book is by Helene Henderson, chef and owner of Malibu Farm, a restaurant that grew out of the cooking classes and dinners she hosted at her home. Now, Malibu Farm spans eight locations not only in Malibu, but Lanai, Miami, New York, and Tokyo. The African-American, Swedish-born Henderson is self-taught, and is married to actor-director John Stockwell.

The 100 recipes reflect a chill California vibe in dishes such as “Surfers Rancheros,” “Chicken Parm From the Farm,” and “Caffe Latte Ice Cream.” There’s also a delicious dose of Swedish skal (“cheers”) with a whole chapter on fun drinks such as “Rhubarb-Infused Aquavit” and “Coconut Horchata.”

“Twice As Nice Artichokes” are a festive way to enjoy California’s fall and winter globe artichokes. In fact, this easy dish even does a star turn on the cover of the cookbook. It’s only fitting, since nearly all the artichokes grown in the United States come from California.

Henderson trims and halves them, then boils them. Although her gauge was 15 minutes for cooking them, I found that mine took closer to 25 minutes, so that’s what I noted in the recipe below.

Grilling or searing adds a lovely color to the artichokes.
Grilling or searing adds a lovely color to the artichokes.

Of course, artichokes can be cooked many ways, including microwaving and steaming. My father cooked them in an old-fashioned pressure cooker. While I followed the boiling method in this recipe, I would probably revert to my usual stove-stop steaming the next time, because I think that method actually cooks the artichokes more uniformly and doesn’t leave them so water-logged. You do you. Feel free to use the method that you most prefer.

Once the artichokes are cooked, and drained well, char them on an outdoor grill or in a saute pan or on a grill pan on the stovetop.

A versatile artichoke aioli that's a breeze to make.
A versatile artichoke aioli that’s a breeze to make.

Then, whip up the easy dip, which also includes marinated artichokes for more oomph. The dip recipe makes a generous amount. In fact, unless you really go to town on it, you will easily have enough aioli for 6 large artichokes. So make more. Or use the remainder on grilled or fried fish sandwiches, roasted or steamed broccoli, or skewered shrimp. The aioli can also be thinned with more lemon juice or even champagne vinegar to make a fabulously creamy salad dressing.

I’d say that’s even thrice as nice.

Twice As Nice Artichokes

(Serves 2 to 4)

1/2 lemon or 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Salt to taste

2 large artichokes, peeled, cleaned, and halved

1/4 cup reserved liquid from marinated artichoke hearts (from Artichoke Aioli recipe below)

Olive oil (optional)

Artichoke Aioli (recipe below)

Add the lemon half or juice to a large pot of salted water (to prevent oxidation and the artichokes turning brown) and bring to a boil. Add the artichokes and cook for about 15 to 25 minutes, or until they are just beginning to soften. Drain the artichokes and pat them dry.

Transfer the artichokes to a medium bowl and toss them with the reserved liquid from marinated artichoke hearts. The artichokes can be held in the dressing for a few days.

To serve, grill the artichokes or sear them in a little oil in a skillet over high heat, until they are reheated and slightly browned or charred. Serve with Artichoke Aioli.

Artichoke Aioli

(Makes 1 1/2 cups)

1 (16-ounce) can or jar marinated artichoke hearts

1 cup mayonnaise, purchased or homemade

1 garlic clove, grated

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Salt to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Drain and reserve the liquid from the marinated artichoke hearts. Combine the mayonnaise, artichoke hearts, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and parsley in a food processor. Whirl it all together until just blended but still chunky.

Note: If you have leftover artichoke aioli the next day, thin with a little remaining marinade from the marinated artichokes, olive oil, lemon juice, or buttermilk to make a creamy dressing to drizzle on salad.

Adapted from “Malibu Farm Sunrise to Sunset” by Helene Henderson

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