Steamed artichokes with lemon garlic dipping sauce is one of my standard appetizers. Served warm, room temperature or chilled, I'll put a platter out for guests while I finish cooking dinner. The lemon garlic dipping sauce provides a creamy, tangy accent to the earthy artichokes. When the leaves are gone and the fuzzy choke is removed, be sure to eat the heart.
Steamed Artichokes with Lemon Garlic Dipping Sauce
Decades ago, a neighbor brought this strange vegetable over and taught us how to eat it. With an earthy, nutty flavor, I’ve been a fan ever since and spring is their peak season. Boiled or steamed, serve with a quick mayonnaise-based lemon garlic dipping sauce or melted butter.
How to Buy Artichokes
Fresh artichokes should be compact, plump and feel heavy for their size. If the artichoke squeaks when squeezed, it’s fresh. The leaves should be green and tightly closed. If the leaves (called bracts) are brown and splitting, the artichoke is most likely past its prime. The exception to this is winter harvest artichokes. They may have light brown scaling on the leaves due to frostbite. Although not as pretty, they still taste good.
How to Prep Artichokes for Cooking
To prepare artichokes for cooking:
- Cut the top third of the artichokes off (a serrated knife works best)
- Trim the stem flush to the base
- Snip off the points from each tip with scissors
- Rub the artichoke all over with a cut lemon half.
How to Cook Artichokes
Steam or boil them, either on a rack or without. Place artichokes stem side up in a pan wide enough to hold them. Add a few inches of water to the pan, add your lemons, herbs and oil. Or you can steam them by first placing a steamer rack in the bottom and adding water just to the top of the steamer rack. Either way, just be sure your pan does not run dry of water while cooking.
How to Serve Artichokes
After steaming, pluck the hot artichokes out of the pan with tongs, drain, and place on a platter for serve with the dipping sauce. Have an empty bowl handy for discarded leaves. A versatile vegetable, artichokes can be served as an appetizer, snack, salad, or as part of a main course. Pack them up for a picnic or tailgate. Use them for lunch and stuff with chicken or crab salad. Recipes abound for ways to use the green globes, so enjoy them while they are available.
Grilled Artichoke Option
For extra flavor and presentation, try finishing them on the grill.To grill, split the cooked artichokes in half from top to bottom, remove the fuzzy choke, brush with a little olive oil and place on the grill for a few minutes until a lightly charred. Grilling gives them a lightly smokey flavor. After grilling, cut the artichoke halves in two for easier to eat quarters size pieces.
- Large pot
Lemon Garlic Dipping Sauce
- ½ cup your favorite mayonnaise Vegenaise
- 1 large garlic clove finely chopped
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons fresh chopped parsley or chives optional
- 2 large raw artichokes
- 1 large lemon cut in quarters
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 6 black peppercorns
- 1 Sprinkle of kosher salt
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2-3 fresh whole garlic cloves peeled and smashed
Make the Dipping Sauce
- Start by making the sauce. Combine all ingredients and stir until smooth. Can be made ahead of time, covered and refrigerated until serving time.
- Prep artichokes for cooking. Cut the top one third off with a serrated knife (bread knife). The teeth of a serrated knife make it easier to cut through the tough exterior. Discard the trimmings. Trim the bottom stem flush with the base. Next, trim off the prickly point of each leaf with a pair of kitchen scissors. Rub a cut lemon over the artichoke to prevent it from browning.
- Cook the artichokes. In a deep pan wide enough to hold artichokes, place trimmed artichokes stem side up in the bottom of the pan (or place on a steamer rack). Fill pan with a few inches of cold water. Squeeze lemon juice over the artichokes and put rinds in the pan. Drizzle in olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, add bay leaf, black peppercorns, thyme sprigs and garlic.
- Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and bring to a boil. When steam starts coming out of the pan, turn the heat down to low and cook artichokes until you can pierce the center of the stem with a paring knife. The timing will depend on the size of the artichokes. For big ones test at 20-25 minutes and continue if needed for a few minutes. Another way to tell when an artichoke is ready is to pull off and outer leaf. It should come off easily. Doing both tests is a good idea.
- Remove the artichokes from the pan and drain on a towel. At this point, you can arrange the artichokes on a platter and serve them hot, at room temperature or chilled with the sauce. Be sure to put an empty bowl out for the eaten leaves.
Optional Grill Finish
- To finish by grilling, split the artichokes in half from top to bottom, remove the fuzzy choke, brush with a little olive oil and place on the grill for a few minutes until a little charred. This enhances the earthy, nutty flavor and makes for a great presentation. Serve with lemon garlic dipping sauce.