Fried artichokes are a classic starter in Rome, but we also like to serve these crispy snacks as a side dish with fish or pasta during the fall, artichokes’ second season of the year. Here, we fry them along with a creamy aioli and thin lemon slices, which add a refreshing tang to the mix.
Fried Artichokes with Aioli
You can vary the aioli to suit your taste. Stir in chopped fresh herbs such as dill or parsley, chopped capers or even a pinch of cayenne pepper for a kick of spice.
3 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Grapeseed oil for deep-frying
1 cup flour
To make aioli, combine egg yolks, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor. Process until ingredients are combined, about 30 seconds. With motor running, very slowly dribble in olive oil to form a thick emulsion, drizzling faster as mixture thickens. Add lemon juice, process until well combined and transfer aioli to a small bowl. Set aside.
Fill a bowl with cold water. Halve 2 lemons and squeeze juice into water. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, snap off tough outer leaves until you reach pale green inner leaves, then cut off thorny tips. Leave stems intact, but trim off base and then peel stems with a vegetable peeler, starting where leaves were snapped off to reveal tender flesh. Cut each artichoke in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half again lengthwise. Using a paring knife, cut away bristly choke from artichoke quarters. As each artichoke is trimmed, drop the quarters in lemon water.
Pour grapeseed oil into a large saucepan to a depth of 3 or 4 inches and heat to 325 degrees F on a deep-frying thermometer. While oil heats, put flour in a large bowl. Remove artichokes from water and carefully dry with paper towels. Add artichokes to bowl of flour and toss to dust lightly, shaking off any excess. When oil is ready, working in batches, carefully add artichokes to pan. Fry until crisp and golden, 3-4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt. Let oil return to 325 degrees F between batches. Serve at once with aioli and remaining lemons, cut into wedges. Serves 4.