This recipe is based on the concept of “If it grows together, it goes together”. We are very fortunate to have Charles from Field & Larder in the area. He grows beautiful artichokes and basil in the summer. A smear of pesto aioli on a sandwich will change your sandwich-making life. In this recipe, I added pesto aioli to “Carciofi alla giudia”, which is a fried artichoke that hails from Rome by way of the Jewish community. It’s been popular for a long time. This simple dish relies on quality ingredients. There’s not much to hide behind with such a minimal recipe. To make it even easier, I broke meal prep into two days. First, you’ll make the aioli, then the next day, you’ll make the pesto, fry the artichokes and assemble the dish.
Day 1: Prepare the Aioli
Prep Time: 10 to 15 minutes | Yield: 1/2 cup
Traditional aioli is an emulsion of garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. It’s basically a garlic-flavored mayonnaise. Over time, egg yolk and Dijon mustard were added for a more well-rounded flavor. We’re going to make this one with the egg yolk and Dijon today.
- 2 small garlic cloves
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil or vegetable oil
- Salt, to taste
- Water, as needed
Step by Step
- With the back of your knife, mince and mash the garlic to a paste
- Add a pinch of salt, then set the garlic mixture aside
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolk, lemon juice and mustard
- In a separate bowl, combine the extra virgin olive oil and grapeseed oil
- Slowly add the oils to the egg mixture, a few drops at a time, whisking constantly, until the mixture is emulsified
- Next, whisk the garlic paste into the emulsion and season with salt as needed
- Store in an airtight container. This aioli is great for a multitude of things, such as French fry dip, salad dressing or smeared on your favorite sandwich.
Farm2ChefsTable Tip: If the emulsion separates, stop adding oil and whisk very quickly until the emulsion blends together, then continue adding oil. If the emulsion gets too thick, add a splash of water to thin it out. An emulsion that is too thick has a tendency to separate. It’s helpful to have a glass of water nearby.
Day 2: Prepare the Pesto Aioli and Twice-fry the Artichokes
Prep Time: 10 to 15 minutes | Special Equipment: Mortal and pestle or food processor
Pesto means different things to a lot of people. The word ‘pesto’ comes from the Genoese verb pesta, which means “to pound or crush”. Technically, you can pound or crush anything, so anything can be pesto. Pesto in one part of Italy might be completely different from another region. Today, we’ll make the undisputed champion of pesto, pesto Genovese, hailing from Genoa, the port city and capital of northwest Italy’s Liguria region. It’s best to make pesto with a mortal and pestle, but you can also use a food processor.
- 25 fresh basil leaves from a local farmer
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup pine nuts (not toasted)
- 1 cup parmesan, finely grated on a microplane
- 1/3 cup Romano cheese, finely grated on a microplane
- Salt, to taste
Step by Step
- Place the garlic in a mortal and pestle or food processor with a pinch of salt
- Begin to pound or crush the garlic to a fine paste. The salt acts as an abrasive to speed things along.
- Next, add the pine nuts and crush to a paste (or pulse it in the food processor)
- Divide the basil in three and add each batch to the mixture one at a time, pounding it to a pulp before adding the next batch of basil leaves. If using a food processor, you can add all the basil at once and pulse until a paste forms.
- Then, slowly add the olive oil until it is emulsifies in the paste
- Mix in both cheeses
- Adjust with salt to your liking
Farm2ChefsTable Tip: You can use this recipe to make the pesto aioli below, or you can store the pesto ‘as is’ in the fridge or freezer for other recipes. For storage, place the pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within one week. It has a shelf life of about one year in the freezer. To stop the pesto from oxidizing while in storage, add 1/2” of extra virgin olive oil on top of the pesto. When the oil chills, it will solidify and form a vacuum seal to prevent the pesto from turning an oxidized brown or gray color.
Prep Time: 5 to 10 minutes
- 1/2 cup aioli (recipe above)
- 1/2 cup pesto (recipe above)
Step by Step
- Whisk the aioli and pesto together in a medium bowl
- Refrigerate, covered, until you are ready to plate
Prep Time: 20 to 30 minutes | First Cook Time: 10 to 15 minutes | Second Cook Time: 3 to 5 minutes
Artichokes are misunderstood because they can be a bit tricky to clean. But once you learn how to clean them, it’s like riding a bike — You’ll never forget how to do it. I remember with my first case of artichokes, it took me a pretty long time to clean them, but after that, I was an artichoke-cleaning machine. This dish is totally worth the extra prep work because the artichokes get super crispy like a chip. Dunk them in the pesto aioli and you’ll be making them all the time.
The trick to a perfectly crisp artichoke is to fry it in olive oil. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Olive oil is expensive. And does it even get hot enough to fry something without smoking too much? Yes, olive oil can be pricey, and it will fry the artichokes nicely at just 350F degrees. I wouldn’t go higher than 410F degrees, or you’ll have a fiery mess on your hands. You can also use the same olive oil repeatedly, so it’s worth it.
These twice-cooked artichokes are a Roman-Jewish delight. When in Rome, do as the Romans do…even if you’re here in the Hudson Valley.
- 6 medium artichokes
- 1-1/2 lemons
- 2 quarts olive oil
- Aleppo pepper, 2 pinches
- Water, as needed
- Fine sea salt, to taste
Step by Step
- Cut one lemon into wedges
- Cut the other lemon in half
- Choose an artichoke. Trim the leaves away from the base, removing the dark, tough exterior and leaving the tender inner portion. It gets easier as you work your way up the artichoke. When you reach the halfway point (where the leaves begin to slope in), chop off the top quarter or so of the artichoke.
- Next, cut into the top of the artichoke, keeping your knife almost vertical, to remove any spines that may be present in the smaller leaves near the heart of the flower
- Next, trim away the tip of the stem, which will likely be black. Cutting it reveals a ring in the middle of the stem. The outer layer of the stem, beyond the ring, is tough and fibrous. The ring, however, is an extension of the heart: both tender and tasty. Carefully peel or cut away the fibrous outer layer
- Rub the artichoke with the halved lemon to keep it from blackening
- Put the artichoke in a bowl of water with a small squeeze of lemon juice
- Repeat this process for each artichoke
- Add 3” of olive oil to a large pot and heat to 300F degrees (about 2 quarts of oil). Pick a wide pot with tall sides. The oil will rise when you begin frying the artichokes. This ensures a safe frying situation.
- Drain the artichokes while the oil heats, then place them on a plate lined with paper towel
- Prepare a bowl with fine sea salt
- Season the artichokes inside and out with salt and shake off the excess water
- Slip your artichokes into the hot oil and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, turning them so they cook evenly
- Once mostly cooked, transfer them to a plate lined with paper towel and let them cool
- Assuming you want to enjoy them now, reheat the oil. It should be hotter this time, about 350F degrees, because this is the frying stage
- Carefully lay one artichoke in the oil, horizontally
- Fry for 3 to 5 minutes until the stem is browned, then use a pair of long-handled implements, such as BBQ forks or tongs, to upend the artichoke, stem facing up
- Press down gently so the leaves brown and the artichoke will open like a flower
- While the artichoke is browning, line another plate with paper towel. Put the first artichoke to drain, blossom down, then fry the rest of the artichokes one at a time
Assemble the Dish
Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Pesto aioli (recipe above)
- Fried artichokes (recipe above)
- 8 lemon wedges
- Pinch of Aleppo pepper
Step by Step
- Smear the pesto aioli on the bottom of a dinner plate
- Scatter the artichokes on the plate in a rustic fashion
- Sprinkle a pinch of Aleppo over top
- Serve with a lemon wedge garnish on the side.