Cooking For One: Steamed Artichokes

LADIES LUNCH MENU: Artichokes with Caper-Scallion Mayonnaise; Biscuit Club Sandwiches; Apple Crumb Coffee Cake

I grew up eating whole artichokes with homemade mayo for dipping. These were a treat, something my mother and I would share or, when I was big enough, eat side by side. If we were eating the same head, there would always be a bit of tension when we got down to the heart, the best part. My mother would usually give it to me, after making sure to scrape out all remnants of the choke. I had pictured my death at the hand of an artichoke many times, but so long as there was someone around to double check my cleaning job, the danger only made the heart all the more desirable.

I never remembered artichokes as a seasonal treat, but now I realize they must have been. Lately, the markets have been full of them, and when I see a beautiful bin, I can’t help but grab a pair (carefully) for my weekday lunches.

Whole steamed artichokes are still one of my favorite meals when I am alone. I remember calling my mother up on the phone the first time I tried to make them myself. And, even a week ago, I’ll admit that I picked up the phone again for her to remind me how best to prepare them without a steamer. She told me to simply use my Dutch oven, and to fill it up with enough water to cover the artichoke’s heart. While my artichoke cooked, I made the mayo from scratch, using fresh scallions and a sprinkle of capers to add a fresh/briny punch.

Forty minutes later, my artichoke was ready. It took me less than half the time to devour it, all the way down to the heart, which I cleaned delicately, and then enjoyed all to myself.

From my kitchen, savoring the heart, to yours,



Artichokes with Caper-Scallion Mayonnaise
Makes 2 servings

2 artichokes
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon small black capers
salt to taste

Trim the stems of the artichokes so there is just a half inch of stalk left at the base. In a medium pot or Dutch oven, place the artichokes side by side so they are standing upright. Fill the pot with water until it covers just the base of the artichokes, about 1 inch. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Turn the heat back down and simmer until the artichoke leaves are tender (I just pluck one and try it), about 40 – 50 minutes. Remove from the pot and allow to cool slightly before serving.

While the artichokes cook, whisk (you can use a fork) an egg yolk in a bowl with the Dijon mustard and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Slowly and steadily pour in the oil, whisking constantly. The mixture should thicken up quickly. When you’ve finished pouring in the oil, add the additional lemon juice, scallions, and capers. Taste for salt, and serve alongside the artichokes.

Posted in: Single Serving
  • Megan Lane

    yum – i love artichokes! i’ve never tried preparing them myself before, so this is very helpful. sounds like the perfect dinner for me when my hubby has night class!

  • Wendy

    How yummy!

  • Hope

    Years ago my husband and I stumbled upon a small restaurant in the Fremont district of Seattle. They served a chilled artichoke with a wonderful aioli. They boiled the artichokes in a very heavily oiled water with herbs. The result was a flavorful silky deliscious appetizer. YUM!

  • Elyssa

    I’m surprised to see that you don’t trim the leaves. It’s also quite easy to make a tasty breadcrumb mixture for stuffing purposes. I do that as a one-person meal quite often but I’m always looking for new ideas~

    • BGSK

      Please share the secret to your stuffed artichokes! I’ve never tried this, but am definitely game! Xo phoebe

      • Elyssa

        For the stuffing I usually make a breadcrumb base with the essentials (breadcrumbs, Parmesan, minced garlic, salt and pepper). If I happen to have I’ll add in a fresh squeeze of lemon. Other options of adding in a fresh onion or onion powder and w/e herbs you happen to have on hand.
        For stuffing purposes I’d suggest cutting the top inch off of top of the artichoke and snip all the thorny parts off. Than try to loosen the leaves up a bit by prying them open carefully with a spoon. Use the same effort to distribute the stuffing in all the leaves. Sometimes I find using my fingers is the best method. Than go ahead and steam it until the leaves come off easily.

        You can make many variations depending on personal preferences. Enjoy!

  • Frankie

    Elyssa I think cutting the leaves isn’t that necessary unless you’re afraid of guests handling the thorns, but I find the thorns soften when the choke is cooking so they’re really not a danger. It’s true that cutting them does expose the choke better and maybe it means you don’t need as deep a pan to boil them in. But I guess I’m lazy.

  • Anonymous

    I LOVE artichokes! My mom is an artichoke enthusiast (read: never threaten her artichoke) as well. She always made us separate ones for dinner, no matter how small I was – it was not a lesson in sharing. Eating an artichoke is also the only time she is ever silent for 3 whole minutes at the dinner table. The concentration dedicated to each leaf and the heart is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It will come as no surprise to learn that I’ve inherited that gene. I even served my 2 1/2 year old her own artichoke one day so I didn’t have to share! (I ended up eating hers, too!)

    • BGSK

      Ha! Kelsey, love love love that you share a similar family history with artichokes at the dinner table! I’m glad to hear Daphne is learning early :)

  • big cooking pots

    This is cool! And so interested! Are u have more posts like this? Plese tell me, thanks

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