Grilling season is about to kick into high gear and I am SUPER EXCITED!!! Actually here in San Diego it’s a toasty 91 with hot Santa Ana winds whipping fiercely westward across the county. I hate this weather and honestly the last thing I want to do when it’s this hot is cook. But a girl’s gotta eat, and I’ve got this party to go to, and I’ve got these two gigantor artichokes that won’t wait forever, so I decided to ease my way into grilling season with one of my favorite recipes. It requires minimal time on the stovetop and just 10 minutes on the grill. If you’ve never grilled artichokes then I must stress the importance of trying this at least once.
The first time I grilled artichokes, we had a friend visiting from out of town and I wanted to cook something from the garden. One artichoke plant had just burst into production mode so I harvested five fist-sized chokes. Determined to grill them, I found some ideas online and grilled the whole bunch. I was immediately smitten. The smoky flavor and crispy edges were a revelation.
Grilling made more of the leaf and even the stem edible. Even my husband, who doesn’t like fussing with food (crab legs? forget it), loves these because you can immediately tear off all the leaves and dive right into the heart. As a bonus, the marinade is healthy! Those five little chokes were so good we cleaned the plate, then cleaned off the rest of the plant and grilled every stinkin’ artichoke in the garden.
Sadly, my artichoke plants didn’t survive a vicious gopher attack last year so I had to go to the store and buy artichokes (this pains me, but it’s worth it). The good news is, stores are full of artichokes right now and they are HUGE. So get yourself some chokes and do this:
Heat water in a lidded pot or steamer that will fit your chokes. Slice off top of choke with a sharp chef’s knife. Use kitchen shears to trim the sharp points of leaves. Trim the stem leaving two inches – it’s edible once cooked. Steam artichokes until cooked through (15 to 35 minutes depending on size). You can test doneness by sticking a skewer through the stem end. It will slide in easily once the heart is cooked.
Slice chokes in half and scoop out the thistle and most of the thin, purple-tinged leaves. Brush marinade all over choke halves. Grill on high 5-10 minutes. Turn the chokes every few minutes until they are lightly charred all around. Brush on marinade as you turn the chokes, making an effort to squeeze it into the spaces between the leaves.
And that’s it! Serve up the chokes hot or cold as a side dish or appetizer. You can pull the leaves off and eat the meat or dive right into the heart. I tend to suck on the garlicky charred edges, but I have poor table manners so you can decide how far to go with that. The marinade makes a great dipping sauce, just add more olive oil, salt and lemon and you’re set. They store well too, so save one to eat cold for lunch if you can!
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