Tiny artichokes make the ideal pop-in-your-mouth vegetable for a deck-side feast because the choke is fully edible. You can substitute bottled mayonnaise mixed with a pressed garlic clove for the aioli, but it is so easy to make your own, why not? If you can't find baby artichokes, trim out six large artichokes and remove chokes, then cut each one into quarters. Cook and serve as directed below.
Cut 2 of the lemons in half and squeeze the juice into a large bowl filled with cold water; drop squeezed lemon halves into water. Set bowl of lemon water next to your work area. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, remove the top few layers of dark green leaves, exposing the tender yellow leaves below. With a sharp paring knife, pare away the tough, fibrous outer layer around the base of the artichoke, then trim the tip of the artichoke off to flatten the top; you should still have about 2 inches of leaves above each heart. Drop each artichoke into the bowl of lemon water, as it is prepared (otherwise artichokes will darken).
To cook artichokes, place them on a rack in a pan above simmering water and steam, covered, until a knife slides easily through the base of the artichoke and leaves are tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove artichokes and plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.
To make the aioli, juice the remaining lemon. In a blender, puree the egg yolk with 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, the garlic, and a hefty pinch of salt. (If using a food processor, use a whole egg.) With machine running, gradually pour in the extra-virgin olive oil in a very thin, steady stream. Then pour in neutral oil in a thin stream. Do not rush it; if you pour oil too fast, mayonnaise won?t thicken. When all the oil is incorporated, transfer aioli to a serving bowl and season, to taste, with more lemon juice and salt. Serve at once with cooled artichokes. If made ahead, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate aioli and artichokes up to 1 day.
Consumption of raw or undercooked eggs, shellfish and meat may increase the risk of foodborne illness.
Copyright 2000, Tori Ritchie. All Rights Reserved.