With the whole e. coli-Romain lettuce scare that has impacted the country over the past few weeks, my local grocery store rid its shelves of all lettuces, making green-leaf salads a scarce commodity. In lieu of salads with our meals, I’ve been adding extra servings of vegetables. One of my favorites is steamed artichokes. They are lovely as a side dish, but my favorite way to serve them is as a starter—it makes an average meal feel special. Steamed artichokes are so elegant in their presentation, but could not be simpler to prepare. Plus, you have the added bonus that they are an extremely healthy option to include in your diet. Traditionally, they are served with melted butter for dipping, but I have friends who eat them with sour cream. Personally, I love them with a creamy mustard sauce I found in the Everyday Food Light cookbook. If you are counting calories, they are also delicious plain. This recipe yields four servings, but can easily be multiplied or divided to suit the number for whom you are cooking. One last thing, be sure to put out a large bowl to collect the artichoke petals as you eat, unless you want a mess on your hands.
4 large artichokes (8-10 oz each)
8 Tbsp good mayonnaise, such a Helman’s or Duke’s
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp Dijon mustard
4 Tbsp white wine vinegar
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a large mixing bowl. Toss the squeezed halves in with the juice and fill the bowl with cold water.
2. Fill a medium-sized sauce pot with 1-inch of water, then place a steamer basket inside the pot.
3. Remove the first layer of tough exterior petals from the artichokes. Using a serrated knife, cut off the stems as close to the bases of the artichokes as possible. Next, cut off the tops of the artichokes, about 1-inch. Using kitchen shears, snip off any remaining rounded edges of petals that fall below the top cut. As each artichoke is prepared, place it in the lemon-water bath while you finish with the rest. This will prevent them from browning.
4. Once all the artichokes are prepared, squeeze out as much lemon-water as possible and place them in the sauce pot on top of the steamer basket. Cover the pot with its lid ajar and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low. Steam the artichokes for 25 minutes.
5. While the artichokes steam, combine the mayonnaise, olive oil, white wine vinegar, and Dijon mustard in a mixing bowl. Whisk until smooth and creamy. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Distribute the sauce into 4 small serving bowls or ramekins, or into one larger communal bowl.
6. Once the artichokes have steamed, remove them from the pot to individual serving plates using tongs. Serve warm with the creamy mustard dipping sauce on the side.
🍽 If you have never eaten steamed artichokes before, here’s how you do it: Pull petals off of the artichoke one at a time. Dip the root end of the petal in the dipping sauce, then place it between your teeth and bear down with enough pressure to hold the petal in place but not bite through it. Using your fingers, pull the petal out, scraping off the flesh of the petal with your teeth. Discard the petal, as it will be too tough and fibrous to consume (unless you want a serious stomach ache). As you go, the petals will become more tender. Enjoy!
Stewart, Martha. “Asparagus with Creamy Mustard Sauce,” Everyday Food Light. New York: Martha Stewart Living, Omnimedia, Inc., 2011. Page 178.