The artichoke seems to live a half-life in Midwestern America. Many people solely think of it as a semi-pickled vegetable, or something that lives in the ubiquitous artichoke ramekin.
When I was growing up it was a treat for us to get fresh globe artichokes and steam them whole until tender. Once slightly cooled, I would tear leaves from the body and dip them in flavored mayo or melted butter and, with my teeth, scrape the small bit of flesh from the bottom of the leaves, all the while anticipating reaching the heart of the choke where the real meat lives. To get to the heart you need to remove the choke (the inedible fuzzy thistle part), which pulls easily from the heart with a little spoon scraping, then peel a bit of the stem. Once you do all that, you'll have a large meaty treasure waiting for the dip.
To select the best, freshest artichoke look for tight, compact leaves (if you rub the leaves, they should let out a little squeak), bright green coloring throughout, and no drying at the tips. Below is a worthy recipe I use for a mayonnaise-based dip.
- 1 c. mayo or fresh aioli