apparently people are sometimes apprehensive about artichokes. they seem like a hassle, or maybe too fancy, or you don't know how to eat them or whatever.
they are actually totally easy and really great to eat as a casual (dig the tupperware serving dishes) but fun and sort of unusual appetizer with friends or your sweetums. sometimes they can be expensive, but trader joe's has them for a mere 99 cents right now, so no more excuses!
this is just a steamed artichoke, but you can also par steam them and then grill them, which i did a couple of weeks ago. that was seriously delicious and i plan to do it again, but just steaming them is also good and really simple.
cut the stem off. you can also steam this, and i did, but it was sort of bitter and i didn't care for it. next time i will probably just throw it away. oh well.
sometimes people trim each leaf thing and cut off the tip of it, but as always, i am lazy and didn't do that. somehow it still managed to taste good.
set it on one of those steamer basket thingies in a pot big enough so that you can fit it in there and cover it. put about an inch or so of water in the bottom and turn the heat on high. let it steam for about half an hour to 45 minutes, checking every now and then to make sure there is still water in the pan (and replenishing if there isn't).
the artichoke is done when you can wiggle one of the bottom leaves (yes, i know they aren't really leaves, but whatever) pretty easily. you can also check by picking it up with tongs and sticking a knife tip in the stem - if it is pretty tender, that puppy is done!
even if you overcook it a little, it's not that big a deal because you will be dipping it in delicious sauce that makes everything yumsville - it's a bit like an aioli, but also includes smoked paprika, which is a miracle ingredient and will make your life better in countless ways.
for one artichoke, i used 1/3 cup of mayonnaise, 1/4 cup of greek yogurt, one large clove of garlic (minced, or you can do what i do and grate it on a microplane - watch your fingers, though!), a teaspoon-ish of sherry vinegar (or lemon juice and a little zest would be great - we just didn't have any lemons), like a teaspoon of smoked paprika (i think this is in most supermarkets now - ours even has it in the bulk spices section, so you can get however much you want at a time), a smaller amount (maybe 1/2 that) of cumin, a pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper.
i am trying to write the measurements so you have an idea of proportions, but seriously, it isn't like i sat there with a measuring cup and spoons - really i just kind of dollop things in, taste it, and adjust.
then once the artichoke is cooled (you can eat it lukewarm or cold or however you want), eat up!
work from the outside in, picking off the leaves, dipping, and using your teeth to scrap off the soft meaty part at the base of the leaves. i am sure there are youtube videos on this for those who are confused.
once you get to the center prickly part (choke), scoop that sucker out with a sharp spoon or a knife. then you are left with the heart, which you can cut into wedges and continue dipping.
then if you didn't get all the dip, but are out of artichoke, you can use bread or your fingers to make sure you don't waste any.
the dip would also be really good with other steamed or roasted vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, or asparagus.
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 large clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon of sherry vinegar or lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste