Artichokes with Roast Garlic Dip

Once, I proudly grew my own artichokes, and although I was able to pick a couple of them the first year, and although the taste was unrivalled, ours turned out to be a love that was not meant to last. Artichokes are perennials, meaning they can become a permanent fixture in your garden, provided they survive the winter. And I swear it wasn’t me, I did everything to make their hibernation as snug as possible. One thing I hadn’t counted on though, was the group of underground artichoke fans that frequented the plot that winter. When spring finally came and nothing reappeared, it didn’t take us long to figure out that mice had merrily (my interpretation, I admit) nibbled their way through all the roots. Long story short, we now have more room to grow other things, and none of this has stopped me from indulging in an artichoke or two whenever I see them for sale at the market.

This recipe might be my favourite way to enjoy fresh artichokes. Picking off the leaves one by one and dipping them in something tasty makes for a fun fondue-like eating experience, and this method also does away with the daunting and possibly lethal task of prepping raw artichokes.

Roast garlic is sweet and mellow and makes a lovely addition to lots of different dishes, so don’t hesitate to make more than you need for this recipe. The soft, paste-like cloves keep well in the fridge for a couple of days and can also be frozen.

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Ingredients:

medium-size globe artichokes

lemon juice

for the dip (enough for 3 artichokes):

1/2 bulb roast garlic

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp dijon mustard

black pepper

sea salt flakes

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  • First make roast garlic. Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius, take a whole garlic bulb, peel away most of the outer layers and cut off the top. Rub some olive oil on the cut surface, put the bulb in a ramekin and place another ramekin on top. Now place it in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes. Take off the top ramekin for the final 10 minutes if  you like some caramelisation. Let it cool and you’ll see the soft cloves can easily be plucked from the bulb, or even squeezed out.

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  • Now prep your artichokes by cutting off the top with a sharp knife, and possibly snipping off spiky bits with a pair of scissor. Have lemon juice on hand to rub on all the cut surfaces, because artichokes oxidise fast and develop unappealing black spots (if you look closely you can still see some little black spots on my artichokes, so more lemon juice is more better).
  • Put them in a steamer basket over boiling water, and steam on medium heat for around 30 minutes. You know it’s done when a leaf can be pulled off easily.
  • In the meantime, combine the ingredients for your dressing, except for the sea salt flakes, in a food processor, or have a stick blender on hand, and process until the sauce is smooth and emulsified like a mayonnaise. Transfer to a little bowl and sprinkle the sea salt flakes on top.
  • Now comes the fun part: eat the artichokes by pulling the leaves, and dipping the fleshy bottom part (where the leaves are attached to the rest) in the sauce. Scrape the “flesh” off with your teeth and discard the tough upper part of the leaf. Continue like this until you reach the center. You are now left with the artichoke heart. Scoop out and discard the fluffy stuff in the center, and eat the artichoke hearts with the sauce, or save them for another dish.

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