Are you an artichoke lover? We grew up with them and still every time the family is over for dinner we remember how we kids fought for hearts. My mom first encountered artichokes in college in Los Angeles in the late 50s. She was babysitting for a family who left instructions for her on how to cook this strange looking vegetable. She dutifully followed the instructions to cook them, and then removed the leaves to serve to the kids and threw out the hearts! Thankfully the kid’s mom eventually set her straight, and to this day mom still bemoans the loss of those hearts.
Anyway, if you love artichokes, here’s a great way to prepare them on the grill. The trick is to steam them first. Artichokes take a long time to cook, and like moist heat, so it’s best to just grill them at the end for the grill marks and smokey flavor. Cut them in half so the steam penetrates the center more easily and the artichokes cook faster and more evenly. Steam them instead of boiling them so they don’t get too soggy from the water and they stay dry enough to get good browning on the grill. Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice to serve. Yum!
- 2 to 4 large globe artichokes
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, oregano, and thyme
1 Place chopped herbs in a small bowl, cover with olive oil. Microwave on high heat for 30 seconds (or heat oil and herbs on the stove top until warm). Let the herbs seep in the warm olive oil while you prepare the artichokes.
2 Prepare a large pot with an inch of water at the bottom and a steamer rack. Prepare the artichokes. Have lemon wedges ready. If you want a nice presentation, use scissors to snip away the pointy tips of the artichoke leaves. As you trim the artichokes, rub the cut areas with juice from the lemon wedges to prevent the artichokes from turning brown from oxidation. Use a vegetable peeler to cut away the thick outer layer of the artichoke stems. Trim the stems to 2 inches from the base of the artichoke. Cut off and discard the top 1/2 inch of the artichokes. Cut the artichokes in half. Use a strong metal spoon to scoop out the fuzzy chokes and the small inner artichoke leaves. Rub lemon juice all over the inside and exposed cut areas of the artichokes.
3 Heat the water in the large pot with a steamer rack on high. When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium high and place the artichoke halves, cut side down on the steam rack. Cover. Steam for 20 minutes (less of more, depending on the size of the artichokes), until you can easily pull off the outer leaves, and you can pierce the heart easily with a knife. The artichokes can be just a tiny bit less cooked than would be typically perfect for steamed artichokes, as you will be cooking them further on the grill.
4 Prepare your grill for direct, high heat. Use a pastry brush to brush the artichoke all over with the herb infused oil. Sprinkle all over with salt. Place the artichoke halves cut-side-down on the grill grates. Cover, and grill for 5 to 10 minutes, until you have nice grill mark on the cut sides of the artichokes.
To serve, sprinkle the cut sides with more lemon juice. Serve alone or with mayonnaise, remoulade, or aioli.