Artichokes are shy little things. When at last they come into season, they emerge with utmost caution, still cloaked in spiny leaves. Press them, and they’ll squeak in protest. Handle them too quickly, and they’ll cut your fingertips. But if you are tender and patient, if you coax them gently from their shells, artichokes will open their hearts to you -- and they will be hearts of gold.
Once you’ve won them over, artichokes are up for every kind of springtime feasting. Peeled and trimmed, they’ll gladly mingle with spinach on game day or brighten up your roast chicken for dinner. They’ll be your snack, your side dish, your supporting cast. But above all, at the height of the season, they deserve to be eaten simply -- fried to a crisp or grilled, with a zippy aioli for dipping. Grab your paring knife -- we’re giving spring’s shyest vegetable a moment in the sun.