pan-seared artichoke with an aioli trio

pan-seared artichoke with an aioli trio

Everything is going to be fine. You’re cooking tonight’s Valentine’s dinner, but still haven’t decided what to make. First, take a deep breath, and realize you’re not the only one browsing the web for “romantic home-cooked meals” right now. We’ve gotcha covered, and have definitely been there before. There was the time we waited to buy champagne on our way to a New Year’s party, only to learn the store was sold out of everything bubbly. And the time we tried to buy eggs on Easter morning, finding the dairy case completely empty. Sometimes procrastination works, and sometimes it does not. But no worries: your Valentine will never know you were browsing our site at the last minute on this intimate holiday. In fact, from the very first sip of the evening’s cocktails, it will seem as though you’ve been planning this special night for a long time. And when you bring out this first course, pan-seared artichoke with an aioli trio, and see the smile on your date’s face, it can be our little secret that you just discovered it today.

a romantic appetizer for two
using a serrated knife makes trimming it easier
purple leaves hidden inside
slicing through the layers

Once you pan-sear an artichoke black, you can never go back. We have always steamed our artichokes, but after discovering this method we realized how much more flavor was possible. And they are incredibly easy to make too. Simply dressed with fresh-squeezed lemon juice, whole cloves of garlic, a drizzle of oil, and a pinch of flaky sea salt, they are wrapped in foil and baked in the oven till they come out steaming hot, filling your kitchen with the aroma of roasted garlic. And just as you were thinking it doesn’t get better, it actually does: throwing the artichokes on a grill for a few minutes brings an enticing smokiness that you can’t get from the oven alone. It’s a quick step to bring some extra flava that you and your mate will love.

the fuzzy middle is called the choke which is removed before cooking
a squeeze of fresh lemon
a drizzle of olive oil
each aioli takes less than a minute to make

Don’t think we’d leave you without providing a delicious dipping sauce. Today is a special day, so we decided to create not one, not two, but a trio of sauces for your dipping pleasure. Each aioli takes less than a minute to whip up, leaving you more time for smoochin’ (we told you we gotcha covered). And all three choices are different from one another. The tangy dill is a classic we have been enjoying for years. The lemon garlic is a match made in heaven for artichoke, and the spicy harissa will certainly take the evening to the next level. With candles flickering and your favorite tunes playing in the background, your night will be off to the right start. Followed by a simple 4-ingredient tomato sauce as your main course and chocolate mocha lava cakes for dessert, this Valentine’s Day will be a night to remember.

no garlic press? Just finely mince it instead
sizzling, searing, and smoking
the soft roasted garlic is a free bonus!

Pan-Seared Artichoke with an Aioli Trio
serves 2

For the artichokes:
2 globe artichokes
4 large cloves of garlic
2 lemons
4 teaspoons olive oil
several pinches of flaky sea salt

For the lemon-garlic aioli:

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 garlic clove, pressed or finely minced
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the spicy harissa aioli:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons harissa paste
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, pressed or finely minced

For the tangy dill aioli:

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon dried dill
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Wash the artichokes, and trim the stem to 2 inches. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the top 1 1/2 inches off the top of the artichoke, making a flat top. If any sharp spines remain on the tips of the leaves, snip them off with scissors. Next, cut the artichoke in half lengthwise, from the stem to the top. Using a sturdy metal spoon, scoop out the fuzzy “choke” in the center and discard. Repeat with the second artichoke.

Place an artichoke half on a square of aluminum foil, cut side up. Place a peeled garlic clove in the hole where the choke used to be. Squeeze half a lemon over the artichoke, then drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of flaky sea salt. Lift the corners of the foil and wrap the artichoke snugly, folding the top to seal. Place onto a rimmed baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining artichoke halves. Bake for 60 minutes, or until the heart is completely tender when pierced with a knife.

Meanwhile, as the artichokes are roasting, make the three aioli dipping sauces. For each one, simply combine the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until blended.

When the artichokes are finished roasting, open the foil packages carefully as the steam inside is very hot. Remove the garlic clove from each artichoke and set aside. Preheat a grill pan (or an outdoor charcoal grill if you prefer) until very hot, and place the artichokes halves cut-side-down on the grill. Cook until blackened grill marks appear, about 1 minute. Serve immediately with the roasted garlic and three aioli sauces at the table, and enjoy!

notes:
— Never eaten an artichoke before, and wondering how to approach it? Here’s the deal. The leaves are tough, but they all have a layer of delicious soft flesh near their base. Pick up a leaf, dip it in aioli, then holding the tip, bite down on the leaf and use your upper teeth to scrape off the soft part as you pull the leaf out of your mouth. Discard the tough part of the leaf that’s left behind. The outer leaves are the toughest, and get softer as you proceed towards the center of the artichoke. The central leaves are so soft that they can often be eaten almost whole. Once all the leaves have been removed—you’ll have a big pile of discarded leaves on your plate by this point—you’ll be left with the heart and stem which can be eaten whole, and are the best part! If there are any small tough leaves on the stem simply remove them before eating. Good luck, and enjoy!
— To make this recipe vegan, use a vegan mayonnaise.
— If you don’t have a grill pan, you can use a heavy skillet instead.

2 Comments on pan-seared artichoke with an aioli trio

    • husbandsthatcook
      February 21, 2017 at 2:17 pm

      Thanks so much Carlos! Each aioli is completely different, but they’re all delicious in their own way!

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