Spring is one of the most inspirational seasons for me as a food-lover. The vegetables are bright and fresh, snappy and abundant and SO GREEN! Especially after a completely dreadful and grey winter this is a most welcome change to nature’s color palette. Another added bonus, at least for me, is that it seems as though every spring vegetable whether it be artichokes, asparagus, leeks, ramps, fiddleheads, morels, etc taste amazing with eggs! I could eat these vegetables with poached eggs every day for the rest of my life and I could die a happy girl, even better if it’s a combo.
One of my absolute favorite spring vegetables is the artichoke. Not only is it a gorgeous vegetable but it can also be a fickle mistress. There is seemingly so much waste involved with artichokes as the heart is the only wholly edible piece. Though, there is something primitive and satisfying about scraping your teeth against each leaf to suck on that little cheek of soft meat at the base. Couple that with an unctuous tangy dipping sauce and spring vegetable heaven can be achieved.
And if you’re wondering what you can do with all that vegetable waste, you can add it into a vegetable stock or braising liquid for a few minutes to boost the flavor. I don’t like to leave them in for too long as I think they can sometimes impart a harsh bitter flavor. Of you can use them to infuse a savory custard for a spring vegetable tart or mousse (whoa! I just might do that!) You can also just boil the leave and stems in water to make an artichoke “tea” which if packed full of antioxidants as well as helping to stimulate the immune system, helping to prevent inflammation and improves liver function! Food as medicine, yes!
Eat your spring vegetable and if you have the opportunity to, certainly go hunting for them in the woods!
Artichokes with Lemon Parsley Aioli
- 3 artichokes, trimmed of the top 1/3 (rubbing the cut tops with lemon helps to prevent them from browning)
- half of a lemon
- 1 bay leaf
For the Aioli:
- the other half of the lemon plus it’s zest
- 1 egg yolk
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup neutral oil, such as canola
Bring a pot of water to a simmer over medium heat. Squeeze in the lemon half, add the bay leaf and season the water with salt. Drop in the artichokes, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, drain the artichokes and move them to your plate.
To make the aioli, place the egg yolk, lemon juice and zest, cayenne pepper, mustard, and parsley to the work bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. You can also whisk this by hand if you prefer doing things the old school way or are just a masochist.
Once pulsed together, with the motor running, begin slowly drizzling in the oil until the whole cup has been incorporated. You should have a nice smooth and thick dipping sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Move into a bowl that can be easily dipped out of, peel and enjoy the hell out an artichoke!