There are dinners, and there are dinners. Some evenings you want to indulge, and the evenings after those evenings, sometimes a large meal seems borderline intimidating.
Even on the nights where I don’t want to feast, though, I still like to sit down and feed my brain with the ritual of dinner, even when my belly isn’t up for anything elaborate. (My poor brain gets confused if I try to skip meals; to it, every meal is like a celebration.)
One of the best possible things in the world to eat on nights like this is an artichoke. They are filling, thanks to enormous quantities of fiber, and must be eaten with at least some degree of ceremony. This begins with setting the table: since you eat them artichokes your bare claws, you need extra napkins (or else very large napkins) on hand, plus you have to set a large, empty bowl on the table for the discarded artichoke bits.
When you sit down to eat your artichokes, the act of eating them is more ceremonious yet: you peel off the tiny, tough outer leaves, then dig into the dense, rich meat on each petal, dipping each one in a sauce or dressing, by scraping the meat off each petal with your lower teeth. Then once you’ve eaten all the thick leaves, you’re left with the translucent, spiny ones; you pull those off, then scrape out the purple and green chope, and, finally, enter a state of complete bliss when consuming the meltingly creamy, complex heart.
Artichokes are customizable in two important ways: first, in ritual. The above is my preferred method, but to each her own. My pal Alex uses her top row of teeth to eat artichokes, and when I tried it, it totally didn’t work for me. Who knew something so small could make such an immense difference?
The second monogrammable moment in artichoke consumption is the dipping sauce. For me, always and forever, the primary artichoke dip is lemon juice and zest accompanied by a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a grind of black pepper. I also like garlicky tomato sauce as a condiment with these. Reese likes mayonnaise with his; he usually dolls it up with an extra squeeze of lemon or some chopped herbs. However you enjoy them, artichokes satisfy the part of your brain that needs to take its meals seriously while accommodating a modest appetite.
- 2 medium artichokes
- Olive oil
- ½ lemon
- Salt + pepper
- Preheat your oven to 300º. Locate your aluminum foil and a small baking sheet.
- Slice the tops and bottoms off your artichokes. If you like, you can also slice the ends off any ominously pointy-looking leaves.
- Tear off two pieces of aluminum foil, each big enough to wrap one artichoke in about an 8” width should be fine if you’re using normal-width aluminum foil.
- Place one artichoke on the shiny side of the foil. Bathe it in the juice of ¼ lemon, then add a drizzle of olive oil (about ½ tsp per artichoke is fine, but if you’re in an oily mood, you can certainly add more), then add salt and pepper. Repeat with the other choke.
- Wrap up each artichoke, then place both stem side up on the baking sheet. You shouldn’t see the stems, because they should be wrapped in foil, but they should be balancing on the cut off side of the artichoke flower.
- Roast for about an hour and forty-five minutes, until they are tender all the way through. You can raise the heat and lower the baking time if you’re short on time, but if you’re able to let these roast for a long time, you will not be sorry.
- Unwrap and savor.