How to Eat a Thistle–Artichokes with Lemon-Tarragon Aioli

by Sarah on June 10, 2010

Every year, my dad and I go Christmas shopping together. Usually I am about done with my shopping and my dad hasn’t bought anything. Sometimes I buy a few things, most often my dad still doesn’t buy anything. He likes to wait till the last minute.

Last year, or was it the one before?  Anyway, one time we went over to Paul Somebody’s American Bistro over in Roseville.  After shopping, we always need a bottle of wine and some form of sustenance.  They had an artichoke on the menu as an appetizer and we decided to go for it.  It was served with great fanfare, with a variety of sauces and butter.  And then the server proceeded to tell us how to eat it.  It was very hard not to giggle….because who in California doesn’t know how to eat an artichoke?

It really is true.  Californians generally know how to eat artichokes.  But do they all know how to cook them?  Let’s just go over it, just in case.

When choosing artichokes, pick ones that are closed up tight.  You don’t want artichokes that the leaves are pulled back from the center.

First, pull off the bottom few rows of leaves.  They are tough and won’t be so good.

Choose artichokes with the stems attached, if possible.  Slice off the very bottom of the stem.

Lightly peel the stems.  They are edible and taste like the heart of the artichoke, so DON’T chop them off!

In a pot, fill with about 4-5″ of cold water and squeeze in some lemon juice and just toss the lemons in.

If your artichokes are particularly prickly, you can use a very sharp knife and cut off the tops of the artichokes, and use scissors to trim the tips off of the leaves.  Obviously, I didn’t bother with that.

Basically, you just put these on the stove and bring them to a boil.  Cover and cook for about 20 minutes or more, until the leaves pull out easily and the flesh is tender.

Artichokes are good on their own, but they are even better when you have a little dipping sauce to eat with them.  My dad always used to make one that was flavored with curry, but today we’ll make one with lemon and tarragon.

Start with some of my favorite Best Foods mayonnaise.  A lemon and some fresh tarragon.

Chop the tarragon and toss it in.  Squeeze in the lemon juice.

Add lemon zest to taste.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Serve the artichokes hot, room temperature or even cold, with sauce on the side.  Don’t forget to eat the best part, the heart and the stem!

Lemon-Tarragon Aioli for Artichokes


  • 1 cup Best Foods or homemade mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper


  • Mix together the mayo, the juice of the lemon and the tarragon. Add in the zest of 1/2 the lemon. Taste and add more lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with artichokes.

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