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Artichokes are another one of those “late in life” vegetables for me. I certainly didn’t grow up with them and as an adult, I recognized artichokes at the store but never had the gumption to try them myself. Several years ago, a friend steamed a few artichokes with dinner. We peeled the cooked leaves and worked the flesh off with our teeth. By the time we made it to the heart, I was hooked. These dangerously shaped vegetables weren’t just good, they were delicious.
Nothing competes with flavor added by a hot grill, which is why even though a steamed artichoke is good, a grilled artichoke is even better.
Eating an artichoke is easy. Prepping an artichoke takes a little work. There are a number of ways to prep them, this is what works for me.
With a very sharp knife, cut off the top half of the artichoke.
With a pair of kitchen shears, trim off the sharp tips of the remaining outer leaves.
Slice off the stem, leaving approximately an inch behind.
Peel off the outer layer of skin on the stem with a vegetable peeler. Or, with a knife make a shallow indention around the stem’s circumference at the base.
Then, slice off a thin layer of skin.
Place the artichoke cut side down and slice in half.
With a spoon, scoop out the middle soft, yet still sharp(!), leaves of the choke. Expose the heart and leave behind only the green outer leaves.
Slice the artichoke in half again, so you end up with four quarters.
To keep the artichoke from browning, cover lightly in lemon juice.
An artichoke is dense, so in order to speed up the cooking time, a parboil is recommended. Place the artichoke quarters into a large pot of boiling water. Allow to cook for 8 minutes, then remove and allow to drain.
Lightly brush the artichokes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Grill the artichokes over direct medium heat (350 F) for 12 minutes, turning once. I like to start flesh side down and then finish the outer leaves over the heat.
To eat, peel off the outer leaves, place the base in your mouth while still holding onto the tip. Pull the leaf back out while scraping off the flesh with your teeth. Discard the leaf. If that’s too much work, or in my case, an impediment to fast eating, remove all of the leaves and eat the remaining heart.
While the artichoke is excellent by itself, a dipping sauce is an easy addition. Mix together equal parts mayonnaise and sour cream and season to taste with lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.
Fear not this piney green orb. The artichoke is a fantastic summer vegetable and a perfect addition to your next grilled feast!