charred artichokes with lemon aioliArtichokes are a great choice for entertaining.  They feel special – because they’re delicious, somewhat mysterious, and require TLC to prepare.  On the average night, I pass them by in the store and opt for something quick and easy and green to balance out dinner – a more ordinary vegetable, like broccoli or green beans.  But when I’m looking for something exciting on the menu, I often think of them.  Spring is peak season for harvesting artichokes and they were looking particularly good to me yesterday – too good to pass by.

a tray of globe artichokesArtichokes are a type of thistle – a flowering plant that grows beautiful purple petals.  The edible part is the bud, which must be harvested before the flower blooms.  Inside that bud – underneath some serious armor – is a delicious treat.  There is definitely some work involved to get to it.

cutting tips of artichoke leavesFirst trim off the very end of the stem.  Then snip off the thorny tips of the leaves.  When artichokes are cut, they oxidize fast, so be sure to quickly wipe the freshly cut parts with lemon, to prevent browning.

how to trim an artichokeThe stem is edible.  It’s nicer to eat if you shave off the tough outer layer.

how to cut an artichoke in halfYou’ll need a very sharp knife to slice the artichoke.  Start with the thin stem, so you can be sure to cut it evenly in half.

artichokes trimmed and rubbed with lemon

close up of a sliced artichoke You definitely can’t eat the hairy part in the middle.  That’s called the “choke” because that’s what you will do if you try to eat it.  It’s easier to remove that after the artichoke is cooked and cooled.

how to remove the chokeThere’s nothing like being presented with a beautifully-prepared artichoke: washed, trimmed of sharp points, choke removed, cooked, and ready to enjoy.  This is a perfect recipe for entertaining because you can do all the hard messy stuff the day before.  Just throw the artichokes on the grill before your guests arrive.

artichokes on the grill with lemon aiolicharred artichoke with lemon aioli

Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Out Of This World
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
A fun, rustic appetizer that can be prepped ahead.
  • 3 large globe artichokes
  • 2 lemons, cut in half crosswise
  • Olive oil for brushing
  • Salt and pepper
  • Aioli
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise (I like Hellmans best)
  • ⅓ cup lowfat greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons of slivered basil or mint (optional)
  1. Prepare the artichokes Fill a large pot halfway with water and set it on the stove to bring to a boil while you trim the artichokes. You'll need a sharp knife, a scissors, and your cut lemons nearby. Trim off the very bottom of the artichoke stem. Rub with lemon. Carefully shave off the tough outer layer of the stem. Rub lemon all over the cut stem. Using your scissors, snip the pointy tips of the leaves off with a scissor, until you get to the top, where the leaves are too crowded to separate. Rub the lemon over the outside of the artichoke, so the cut parts don't turn brown. Lay the artichoke on a cutting board and wIth a sharp knife, carefully slice the artichoke in half starting from the thin stem. Rub each exposed inner half all over with lemon. Lay each half outer side down and slice about ¾ of an inch off at the tip, removing the last bunch of pointy tips. Rub the exposed ends with lemon. Repeat with the other two artichokes.
  2. Put the cut artichokes into the boiling water. When it returns to a boil, partially cover the pot and cook the artichokes for 20 minutes. Using tongs, gently transfer artichoke halves, cut side down, to a bowl (letting them drip off a bit first) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for an hour to cool. (or refrigerate them for up to 24 hours if you're prepping ahead.)
  3. Make the aioli In a small bowl whisk all ingredients, except herbs. Store in the fridge, covered for up to 24 hours. Sprinkle freshly-cut herbs on top right before serving.
  4. Grill artichokes (If you chill the artichokes overnight, allow them to sit at room temperature for ½ hour before proceeding) Carefully scoop the chokes (the hairy part near the heart) out of the cooled artichokes using a teaspoon. Heat the grill to medium-high. Brush artichokes generously on both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill artichokes for about 5 minutes per side, outside first, until the cut side is nicely browned. Serve with lemon aioli. Enjoy!



  1. Marian Dioguardi says

    Fabulous and timely. I can’t wait to make this. Beautiful, educational Illustrations too.

  2. margie perse says

    Hi Lisa, These look beautiful. Usually I just boil the artichokes until they are dead and limp–still, my family love them. I look forward to presenting them with an alternative.

  3. says

    Your photos are stunning and your recipes sound delectable. We would love for you to share them at The Feasting Eye is still a bit new, but I think you will like what you see :-).

  4. Katherine says

    This is the first time I ever did artichokes. I am confused abt step 4. Carefully scoop the chokes out of the cooled artichokes using a teaspoon.

    Do you mean scoop out of the bowl or get rid of the hard armor? I looked at your pictures and it doesn’t seem to be scooped out at all.

    Looking forward to eating them tonite!!!

    • Lisa Goldfinger says

      Hi Katherine. If you look at the third to last photo, that shows me scooping out the choke. The choke is just the hairy part that covers the heart. You can also use a knife first, to slice along the line between the heart and the choke. Then take a spoon and gently remove all those hairs. I hope you enjoy the artichokes tonight! Let me know!
      PS I will add an explanation to the recipe so others can benefit from you question. Thanks.

      • Katherine says

        Ohhh, I got it now. I removed the hairy stuff BEFORE I threw artichokes in the pot. I was looking at your pictures. I have to read through recipes over and over until I get it :) Now I know for the next time!!

        Regardless, they were sooooo yummy! My husband especially love the lemon aioli sauce. He literally licked the sauce off his plate. I got your recipe off the, if you wanted to know where I found it.

  5. java st says

    These we’re fantastic. Added some capers to the aioli and a side of warmed lemon butter. It turned our simple meal into something memorable. Thanks!

  6. Donna says

    I made these last night and they were awesome! So easy and delicious. I prepped them the day before and put them on the grill for a few minutes. I did not have greek yogurt, so I used some light sour cream I had on hand. The aioli was fantastic. This was so easy and stressless, I will be making them again.

  7. Jolinda says


    1/2 C Hellmans (Best Foods) Mayonnaise, stirred to smooth.
    Add: 2 tsp Chili Garlic Sauce (found in Asian section)
    1 T lemon juice (maybe a little less)
    3 tsp Tamari (aged soy sauce…infinitely better than soy sauce so don’t sub)

    Stir all together, should be light pink and thick enough to coat the leaves.
    STEAM artichokes over a steamer with lemon juice and whole lemon rinds and 1 T Italian Herbs mixed into the water. Use a sharp fork to test stem and remove JUST when soft enough to pierce easily, and they will continue to cook a bit as they cool.
    Serve room temperature or chilled. YUMMY!~

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