Artichoke season has started with a bang in our garden and the past wet winter has put some gorgeous, big globe fruits on our plants. If you're like us, you love fresh artichokes, but you could do without the mess of cutting through the fuzzy choke to finally reach the delicious, fleshy heart. I know: some will say the heavenly reward is worth the trouble, but I prefer to cut out the trouble before we sit down, so we can get right to the heart of the artichoke matter.
Love the taste but hate the fuzz? Make it easy on the prep for a "no fuzz" experience at the table. Take advantage of the abundance of globe artichokes as they apparently contain more antioxidants then red wine and are high in iron, niacin, and phosphorus.
Yield: Makes 4 servings
PREP: 10 mins COOK: 25 mins (15 + 10) READY IN: 45 mins
- 4 large artichokes
- juice of 1 lemon
- bowl of ice water
for the marinade:
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- a few drops balsamic vinegar (to taste)
- 1 tablespoon plum or apple brandy
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
- 4 cloves garlic, preferably roasted* or freshly chopped (see Tips)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Immerse the artichokes in a big bowl of water to rinse out any dust or other unwanted 'garden particles'. Let drain upside down in a colander for a few minutes.
- Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the juice from one lemon. This will keep your cleaned artichokes from turning brown. Keep a few wedges of lemon handy to rub the trimmed parts of the artichokes during prep.
- Trim the tops from the artichokes: cut about 1 inch off the top of the leaves.
- Cut off the stems close to the base (but keep the stems for later use), and rub the cut part with a lemon wedge. Pull or cut off the lower petals that are small and tough, and not meaty enough to eat. Discard.
- Cut the artichokes in half lengthwise, and pull out the center cone of purple prickly leaves; be careful of the sharp spines. With a sharp paring knife carefully cut out the fuzzy choke covering the artichoke heart. Make sure not to cut away too much of the meaty heart. I actually prefer to use a grapefruit spoon to scrape away the fuzz.
- Rub the heart with a lemon wedge and immediately drop the cleaned halves into the bowl of lemon water to prevent them from turning brown.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, preheat an outdoor grill on medium-high heat.
- Add artichokes to boiling water, and cook for about 15 minutes or use a steamer basket and steam for about 30 minutes.
- When the leaves come off easily, the artichokes are done. You can also insert a knife into the base: no resistance means the artichokes are done.
- Drain into a colander set above a large pot to collect the liquid.
- Squeeze 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into a medium bowl. Stir in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, brandy, and mashed roasted garlic; season with salt and pepper.
- Brush the artichokes with the garlic dip, and place them, cut side down, on the preheated grill. Grill the artichokes for 5 to 10 minutes, basting with dip and turning a few times, until the tips are a little charred. Serve immediately with the remaining dip.
- Enjoy responsibly with a glass of good red wine to double the amount of antioxidants!
* To roast whole garlic heads: Preheat oven to 400°. Remove as much white papery skin from garlic heads as possible without peeling or separating the cloves. Cut about 1/4-1/2 inch of the top of the garlic heads, so most cloves are exposed. Drizzle with a little bit of olive or avocado oil and wrap each head separately in foil. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Separate the cloves and squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Add to any dish instead of fresh garlic. Discard skins.
- Drain the artichokes into a colander set over a large bowl. Set the liquid aside to use for soup later.
- Don't discard the stems; you can peel them and boil them together with the artichokes to use them for soup (recipe later) Be careful to cut away too much of the tender hearts. I prefer to scrape out the fuzzy choke with a serrated grapefruit spoon.
- If you prefer to serve whole hearts, cut of all the outer leaves until you get to the center. Pull off the tender inside leaves and continue with the prickly center cone and fuzzy choke as described above. Rub all exposed surfaces with a lemon wedge and drop into the lemon water.
- Keep the leaves to steam separately and serve with a vinaigrette or leftover marinade from the grilled artichoke hearts.
- Rub the whole hearts with the marinade and grill bottom up. Serve with rest of the marinade.
- I prefer to use roasted garlic cloves because of the sweeter taste and it is easier to digest than fresh garlic. I roast a whole bunch of garlic heads and freeze the squeezed-out cloves for later use.