This simple appetizer is a nice way to kick off a spring dinner...or you can throw in a charcuterie plate and call it a complete meal. A quick note on the aioli: This recipe covers an easy way to make a classic aioli—which packs a very garlicky punch—in a blender or food processor. If your crowd might prefer a milder flavor, you can sub two heads of roasted garlic for the four raw cloves, or grate in the raw garlic at the end to taste. Substituting a neutral-flavored oil for the more traditional olive oil will also yield a slightly milder result (that would technically be mayonnaise). Speaking of which, if you’re short on time, just whisk up the grated garlic and lemon juice with 1 1/2 cups of your favorite prepared mayonnaise instead of pulling out the food processor. —Cory Baldwin
To prep the artichokes for steaming, pull off the outermost leaves leaves and discard. Trim the stem, leaving 1 inch attached. Cut off the top 1/4 of the artichoke and discard. Snip off remaining thorns with kitchen shears. Rub all cut surfaces with lemon.
Add a few inches of water, the juice from your cut lemon, and 1 teaspoon salt to a large pot, then fit with a steamer basket and bring water to simmer. Add the artichokes, stem side facing up. Cover and steam until the artichokes are cooked through (leaves should pull out easily and heart will be fork-tender), about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the aioli: In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine egg yolks, the juice of the remaining lemon (about 2 tablespoons lemon juice), Dijon mustard, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Finely grate garlic on top. Blitz to combine. Slowly pour in the olive oil in a thin, steady stream, processing until the aioli is thick and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning. Aioli can be made ahead of time and will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.
When artichokes are tender, remove from the steamer and season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice (if desired). Serve warm with the aioli for dipping.