… I’m sitting here trying to think of what I could say to convince you that artichokes deserve a bigger role in your life. Maybe I could tell you that they’re one of the most antioxidant-rich foods on the planet, or that they’re super-fun to eat. But I guess I’ll just say that, when you cook them like a pro and make the right dipping sauce, there are few things more delicious than an artichoke.
And about that dipping sauce — since each leaf is eaten by hand, it makes sense to dip them into a sauce with complimentary flavors. Aioli, the Mediterranean sauce with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and egg yolks, is an obvious choice, but it’s far from healthy. Let’s change that: after we learn how to make the best artichokes of our lives, we’ll also make the most yummy vegan aioli sauce from only healthy plant-based ingredients like cashews and lemons. Please tell me artichokes are on the menu this week; I promise you won’t regret it.
How to Cook an Artichoke
- 3-4 artichokes
- 2+ cups water
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried herbs
Technically, there are a million ways to cook an artichoke. You could bake them, boil them, microwave them, or perhaps even grill them. Yet, steaming is the only way that is generally recognized as awesome. And not just steaming in water, but also with lemon, garlic, and herbs to create an infusion that seeps into each layer of the artichoke. Here’s how:
- As shown above, cut off the top 1/2 inch of the leaves and most of the excess stalk at the bottom. This will help the artichokes steam faster and fit into the pot more easily.
- Thoroughly rinse the ‘chokes under the faucet to remove any dirt / debris that may have made its way inside.
- In a large stockpot, add about 2 cups of water, 2 cloves of garlic (whole), a lemon (cut into several chunks), and optionally some dried herbs (oregano, basil, or bay leaves work great).
- Then, insert a steamer basket into the stockpot and place your artichokes on top.
- Cover, bring the pot to a boil over medium heat, and allow the artichokes to steam for about 30 minutes until the outer layers can easily be pulled away from the stalk.
- Allow to cool slightly and enjoy with the amazing vegan aioli dipping sauce provided below.
How to Eat an Artichoke
Cooking an artichoke is intimidating, but not nearly as much as trying to eat it. In reality, the process is simple and so much more fun than eating most foods:
- Starting with the outside layers, pluck them off one at a time and dip the fleshy end (the one that originally connected to the artichoke) into a dipping sauce. Then, gently place it between your teeth and squeeze out the white flesh.
- Repeat for all the layers until you reach the thin papery layers at the very core. Discard those layers (shown below) as well as the white fuzzy part, known as the choke; as in, you will choke if you eat it. 🙂 This can best be accomplished with a spoon by scraping away this fuzz.
- Now, you’re left with the heart, which most people consider to be the most delicious part of the entire artichoke. Simply dip this white fleshy center into the sauce and congratulate yourself for eating an artichoke like a pro.
How to Make a Vegan Aioli Sauce
- 1 cup cashews (soaked)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cloves garlic
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 pinches of salt
I cannot get enough of this sauce. It literally takes 3 minutes to whip up in the blender and the flavors are off the charts. It’s rich and creamy from the cashews, yet still bright and fresh from the lemon and garlic. As an accompaniment to artichokes (or the million other things it can be used for), there is nothing better.
- Soak the cashews for at least 2 hours (4-6 is ideal) in a few cups of water.
- Drain the cashews, then add them along with all other ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend for two full minutes until the sauce is absolutely smooth and no cashew pieces remain.
- Give the sauce a taste and feel free to add additional salt or lemon or whatever else is needed. Then, transfer to a serving dish and wait for those artichokes to finish steaming. How easy was that?