Lightly herbal artichokes are roasted to bring out both a natural nuttiness and sweetness in the vegetable. They’re then paired with perfumed saffron and the sweet-sour juice of last-of-the-season Meyer lemons in a rich dipping sauce. If Meyer lemons are no longer available, use regular lemons and add a drop of honey to the sauce.
- Yield: 10 to 12 servings
- Meyer lemon, 1 large
- Baby artichokes, 2 pounds (about 25)
- Extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Saffron threads, pinch
- Homemade Mayonnaise, 1/4 cup
- Garlic, 1 clove, minced
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to boil over high heat.
- Halve the lemon and squeeze 1 tablespoon juice; set the juice aside. Fill a large bowl three-fourths full with water and squeeze the remaining lemon juice into the water. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, snap off the dark green outer leaves until you reach the pale green center. Using a sharp knife, trim the stem, and then cut off about 1/2 inch from the top to remove the spiny tips. Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise and drop the artichoke pieces into the lemon water to prevent discoloration. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.
- Drain the artichokes, add them to the boiling water, and cook until just tender when pierced with a knife, about 5 minutes. Drain well in a colander and let cool slightly. In a bowl, combine the warm artichokes, olive oil, and a light sprinkle of salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into a single layer. Roast until the artichokes turn brown on the bottom and edges, 10–15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, soak the saffron in 1 tablespoon hot water. In another bowl, combine the mayonnaise, garlic, reserved lemon juice, and the saffron with its soaking water. Mix well and season to taste with salt.
- Remove the artichokes from the oven and let cool slightly. Arrange the artichokes on a warmed serving platter with the mayonnaise mixture, or aioli, alongside for dipping. Serve right away.