In the age of “eat less processed stuff , make as much as you possible can from scratch and buy only fresh veggies” let’s be clear that there are exceptions. If I were never to buy a canned or frozen veggie again, my life would be devoid of artichokes.

In other words, I’d be pretty sad. There would be no roasted chicken with grapes and artichokes,  no creamy chicken and artichoke pasta, no shrimp and artichoke barley risotto, and no leek and artichoke matzoh kugel (my family would be in tears over that one.) And this is not just a matter of seasonal-ity. Even if you could buy fresh artichokes year round, the big globe ones that pop up in early spring throughout the summer don’t exactly translate well for the types of recipes I just rattled off.

Giant, whole artichokes might as well be called something different so as not to confuse the masses. (And if you’re from Cali and grew up eating them, shush a moment. Among the Yankee audience, it’s much more likely that we’ve never eaten a “real” artichoke.) When it comes to these big guys, it’s all about the leaves – pulling them off one-by-one to dip and savor, not unlike the segments of a bloomin’ onion. (Straight from my husband, not me.) Typical condiments are a lemon butter sauce or aioli, but you’re right to assume I’ve got something else up my sleeve. Whole artichokes can also be stuffed with veggie or meat fillings, but today I just want to relish in the simplicity of the whole roasted artichoke, served with a sweet-savory dipping sauce. It’s a lot easier than you might think, and honestly? Makes for a really fun and nutritious dinner (fun like eating a bloomin’ onion, but a heck of a lot healthier!) For those who relish “picky food” to eat with your hands, this is the ultimate.

See? It’s just a few snip-snips! Check out the full details in the recipe text.

One thing I’ve noticed is that my grocery stores seem to carry two varieties of artichokes. The ones I see most often are Lyon artichokes (pictured here, how appropriately!) and Globe artichokes. Perhaps there are others too, but these are what I am familiar with. Lyon artichokes are very round, where Globe artichokes tend to have a more oblong shape. Globe artichokes have thornier tips on their leaves, but the leaves of the Lyon artichoke are much more tender. This makes them a tad easier to prepare (see full instructions below) but if you can only find Globe, don’t worry. It will still be easy-peasy.

When you’re ready to eat the artichokes, simply pull off the leaves one by one, dip them in the sauce, and bite the base (not the sharp tip!) between your teeth. Slide the leaf through your teeth to pull away the “meat.” The outer leaves are tougher and have the last amount. As you get towards the middle, the leaves become fleshier and more tender. When you’re almost at the center, they may be entirely edible. But don’t go too far! The center of the artichoke has an inedible, hairy mass that you’ll want to steer clear of. Trust me, you’ll know when you see it. Simply grab a fork or spoon and scrape it away, then indulge in the tender bottom of the artichoke. You can, of course, scrape out this center part before roasting (which you will definitely do if you plan to stuff your artichokes) but for purposes of eating a simple roasted artichoke, it’s not entirely necessary.

Still need convincing on why you should branch out and eat an artichoke for dinner? (Or lunch?)

  • Artichokes are rich in antioxidants that fight illnesses
  • Artichokes can help your body get rid of bad cholesterol, aiding in the prevention or heart disease
  • Artichokes are high in fiber and known to help with “regularity” and stabilizing blood glucose levels
  • Artichokes are delicious, this sauce is da bomb (yeah, I said it) and it’s just like eating a bloomin’ onion for dinner – only better (he said it, so there.)

If this leaves you wondering what exactly those canned or frozen artichokes are all about, you’re not alone. I’ve tried to figure out where all the leaves go and how the heck that many artichokes could be prepared, even by machine. I suspect these are the “baby artichokes” which have very tender leaves and are missing the inedible portion inside. I only see them make an appearance once every summer for about 2 weeks. So you see, if we really never bought canned or frozen veggies again and relied on fresh baby artichokes for all our artichoke needs, well, we wouldn’t be eating very many artichokes.

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Roasted Artichokes with Honey-Tahini Dipping Sauce

Yield: 2 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 90 minutes

Ingredients:

Artichokes
2 large artichokes
1-2 lemons
1 tablespoon olive oil
coarse salt
2-4 cloves of garlic, peeled

Honey-Tahini Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup (2oz) tahini
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Spray two large squares of foil with nonstick cooking spray.


First, cut a lemon into wedges and keep them nearby. This is going to prevent your cut surfaces from turning brown (or, at least slow the process.)

Next, trim the stem of your artichoke so that it can sit flat on the counter (bottom left photo - sorry for not going in order!) If your artichoke has a lot of tough, smaller leaves near the base, simply pull those off.

Using a sharp, serrated knife, cut about 1" from the top of the artichoke, exposing the yellow inside (top picture). Quickly, rub it all over with lemon.

This step will vary depending on what kind of artichoke you use. If you have Globe artichokes (more oblong shape with sharper tips on the leaves), you'll want to take some kitchen shears and snip the tips of all of the leaves, and rub the cut surfaces with lemon. If you have Lyon artichokes, (rounder shape with more tender leaf tips), you can skip this step.

Place each artichoke on a large piece of foil coated with cooking spray. Drizzle the artichokes with olive oil, squeeze a lemon over them, and push a clove of garlic or two into the center. Sprinkle with coarse salt and wrap them up tightly. Bake for 90 minutes. Let rest 5-10 minutes before unwrapping.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by combining all ingredients in a small food processor or blender and processing until smooth.

Nutrition Facts:

Amount Per Serving
Calories 367.0
Total Fat 23.3 g
Saturated Fat 3.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 7.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat 11.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 480.3 mg
Potassium 806.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 37.4 g
Dietary Fiber 11.9 g
Sugars 9.6 g
Protein 11.1 g

Cara Lyons, www.carascravings.com