Preheat your air fryer to 375°F (or if using an oven, 400°F)
Prepare the Artichokes
Slice a lemon into halves. Squeeze one half into a medium bowl of ice water, and add the lemon half to the bowl and set aside. Lemon juice helps prevent browning of artichokes (tip from Tori Avey). I suggest using a pot to do this since you'll be boiling the artichokes in this water later - save on dishes!
Wash your artichoke thoroughly and dry them with a kitchen towel. Then, using a sharp pair of scissors, snip off the tips of the larger, outer leaves. This will ensure that you can eat more of the leaves. Don't worry about snipping the very tops since we'll slice off a portion of the upper part before air frying.
Next, using a sharp knife, cut off the end of the stem, leaving about an inch of it still attached to the artichoke. This part tastes delicious once fried! Use a peeler to shave off the outer surface of the stem - this is typically quite bitter. Then, rub with the other lemon half, and set aside.
Then, peel off roughly 4 to 5 layers of external leaves using your hands or a pair of scissors (it typically snaps right off). You want to do this until you reach the inner leaves of the artichoke, that are typically white at the base. While this might seem like waste, these outer leaves are typically inedible (especially once fried) - so you'll likely discard a lot of them while eating anyway! Once you do this, you should have about ⅔rds of the artichoke leaves.
Lay the artichoke on it's side and cut it into two horizontal halves with a sharp chef’s knife. I aim for about an half inch above the base (heart) so you can remove the top of the artichoke. Then, slice it into two halves through the stem.
If you look closely you'll see a bunch of fluffy stuff at the middle - this is the "choke" of the artichoke (aka underdeveloped new leaves) This is not edible, so use a spoon to remove the fluff or the choke and discard. You can also run it under cold water to remove any stubborn bits! Once this is done, rub the artichoke with the same half lemon you used on the stem (and you can squeeze some of the juice on top as well) and place into the bowl with lemon water while you prepare the other half. This will make sure your artichokes stay fresh and green!
Remove the artichokes from water and place on a clean kitchen towel. Then, place the pot of lemon water on the stove and bring to a boil. You'll want a couple of inches of water, so add some more water if needed. Place a steamer basket or a smaller glass bowl that can balance on the edges of the pot (so it's not actually submerged in the water). Then, place the artichoke halves in the steamer basket, reduce heat to medium, and cover with lid. I typically steam the artichokes for about 10 minutes (but depending on the size, this might be closer to 15-20). You should be able to pierce a fork smoothly into the thickest part of the stem when it's parboiled properly - don't cook them fully, just parboil!
Season and Air Fry!
Then, place the steamed artichokes on your air fryer tray or basket. Drizzle a tablespoon of avocado oil on the hollow side, and season with a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of black pepper. Use your hands to thoroughly rub it into the artichokes.
Place the artichokes flat side down on the air fryer basket or tray. Then, pour the remaining tablespoon of avocado oil on the top side of the artichoke and use your hands to coat well.
If using an air fryer, air fry at 375°F for 10 minutes. Then, check every minute for up to 5 more minutes to get to perfect golden brown roasted artichokes. If using an oven, you'll need to roast uncovered for 15 minutes, then cover with foil and roast for another 25 minutes!
Serve hot with a dip of your choice (like this basil aioli) and enjoy!
Step-by-step instructions with photographs are in the main body of the post - so please make sure to refer to those if you have trouble following along!
Picking artichokes: You'll want to pick artichokes with tight leaves! Scarring is expected (typically due to frost) but avoid ones that are shriveled up. You'll also want artichokes to weigh heavier than you think they will (this means there's tons of moisture and it's not dried up!)
How much of the artichoke can you actually eat? It might seem wasteful, but a large chunk of the artichokes are typically not fully edible. The parts that are most edible and best suited for this preparation are the soft inner leaves, the heart, and a part of the tender stem.
Seasoning artichokes: I've used very simple seasoning in the recipe to stay true to how I remember eating this dish in Rome. However, you can easily add a couple of garlic cloves underneath the artichokes and roast them together. Or season with garlic powder, any herbs, or even your choice of "spicy" seasoning.
Dipping sauces: I love chopping up some basil, and zesting some lemons, adding both of those to mayonnaise and serving that as the dipping sauce for this recipe. But honestly, you can just eat it by itself!