Artichokes are best in simple preparations, with nothing to cover up their delicate flavor; here we steam them in water flavored with lemon and bay leaf. Serve the artichokes whole and peel off the leaves, using them as edible scoops to dip in the Green Garlic Aioli.
Snap off the tough outer leaves of the artichokes. With a serrated knife, cut off the top third of each artichoke and trim off the base so the vegetables stand upright. Rub one of the lemon halves over the cut sides to prevent discoloration.
Fill a medium saucepan with 1 inch of water. Squeeze juice from the lemon halves into the water; add the bay leaf, peppercorns, and salt; and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat and set a steamer basket inside. Reduce the heat to low so the water is simmering.
Place the artichokes in the steamer basket stem-side up, cover the pot, and steam until the artichoke stems are tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold with a dipping sauce like Green Garlic Aioli.
Beverage pairing:Kalmuck Grüner Veltliner, Austria. All this green—artichokes and green garlic—needs a wine that can handle it. Grüner Veltliner is such a wine, curiously able to reflect and respond to the challenging flavor of artichokes. Grassy, with hints of pepper and flowers, it will be a crisp partner to both the choke and the aioli.