Artichokes with Easy Dipping Sauce

Artichokes with Easy Dipping Sauce

With the COVID-19 disruptions I have been less active with the food blog, and busier cooking for delivery dinners from our restaurant, Donderos’ Kitchen, in Athens. No home entertaining or cooking classes during this time has reduced the opportunities for posting recipes on line. But I explored and learned a lot while trying to create the dinners we sell and that I expect will start showing up on this blog when I can scale the recipes down to my target of six servings.

Meanwhile, however, I do some cooking at home, even if just for Christina and me. Here’s an appetizer I made today. When I occasionally see large, plump fresh artichokes available at a price more modest than what has been typical in recent years, I tend to get some for appetizers at home.

Boiled until tender such that the leaves (technically petals, since the artichokes are huge thistle flower buds) pull off easily, the individual leaves are then dipped lightly into a savory sauce and with the teeth the soft flesh on the upper end of each leaf is pulled off and the fibrous leaf discarded – ultimately at my house to the compost heap. When all the edible leaves are removed, pull off the fine remaining leaves and with a spoon, scoop out the fine fibrous “choke.” Cut the remaining tender “heart” into four pieces. Dip them in the sauce and enjoy possibly the best treat of the artichoke.

The recipe is for two large artichokes, which will serve as an appetizer for four to six people. Increasing the quantities is, obviously, easy.

3 tablespoons cider or wine vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
2 plump fresh artichokes

Bring plenty of water to boil in a large pot. Add the vinegar and salt.

Cut off all but about one inch of the stem of each artichoke and drop the artichokes into the boiling water. Cover the pot, and turn the artichokes from time to time as they cook. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until a lower leaf can be pulled off fairly easily (use tongs).

Remove to a plate to cool. Artichokes can be eaten slightly warm to room temperature or if stored in the refrigerator warmed up a little from cold. Place on a platter with a shallow bowl of the dip (see below) nearby, and another bowl for discarding the leaves into after eating the soft part on the upper part of the leaves.

1 small clove of garlic
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon cider or wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Peel then partially crush the garlic clove and rub the inner surface of a small mixing bowl well with the garlic flesh. Discard the remnants of the garlic.

In the garlic-rubbed bowl, place the sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix well until smooth. Taste, and add a little salt if desired. Transfer sauce to a small shallow bowl for dipping the artichoke leaves.

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