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11 Jun

Grilled Artichokes with Creamy Mint Sauce

Grilled Artichokes2Artichokes are not the most welcoming food in the produce department. With their odd shape, dull green color and layers of prickly armor it’s a wonder humans started eating them at all. Luckily, some poor soul a long time ago was hungry enough to try them and since Roman times the artichoke has not only been embraced, it has had a reputation of being a gourmet delicacy.

There is something oddly decadent about artichokes, even though they descend from the lowly thistle family, the flavor is quite mild and there isn’t an ounce of fat to be found. Maybe it’s because artichokes seem so difficult to cook (and eat, for that matter) that people save them for special occasions. But don’t be intimidated and definitely don’t relegate artichokes to the “special occasion” category. First of all, they’re not that hard to cook. Secondly, artichokes contain almost as many antioxidants as berries and are high in vitamin C, folic acid, magnesium, fiber, and flavonoids. These power-houses of nutrition can be served as an appetizer or side dish and are great in salads.

Artichokes are usually boiled or steamed until tender, then the petals are plucked off as you eat them. The edible part of the petal is at the tip. You scrape it off by biting the tip with your teeth then pulling the petal out of your mouth. The furry center of the artichoke is scooped or scraped out and what remains is the tender, flavorful heart. Baby artichokes, if prepped correctly, can simply be eaten whole rather than by pulling off the individual petals.

Especially in the warmer months, we like to grill both large and baby artichokes after boiling them to give the artichoke a smoky, more intense flavor.

However you decide to cook a large artichoke, the initial preparation is the same:

  • Pull off small or discolored lower petals
  • Cut the stem off and trim any green skin from the bottom of the artichoke
  • Cut off the top quarter of petals (which removes the spiky petals)
  • If not cooking immediately, hold in a large bowl of water mixed with a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to prevent discoloration
trimming step1 trimming step2 trimming step3

Baby artichokes are prepped slightly differently:

  • Cut the stem off
  • Trim the bottom of the artichoke
  • Pull off petals until you reach the inner petals that are more yellow than green
  • Cut the top part of the artichoke off where the green color meets the yellow color
trimmingbaby step1 trimmingbaby step2 trimmingbaby step3

Although it sounds labor intensive, prepping artichokes is actually quick work (a serrated knife works well). While you’re working, bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove and heat the grill to med-high. Drop the artichokes into the boiling, salted water for 8-12 minutes, until the bottom is soft enough to be pierced with a fork.

To prepare the artichokes for grilling:

Slice the artichokes in half lengthwise.

The small artichokes are now good to go. The large artichokes need to have the choke removed.

removing choke

The choke is the furry part with purple leaves. You can scoop it out with a spoon or cut it out with a knife.

Next, brush each artichoke half with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Grill until tender and lightly charred, about 5 minutes a side (large artichokes might need a little longer).

grilling 1

Grilled artichokes taste great with just a squirt of lemon. But as we mentioned earlier, artichokes have absolutely no fat, so of course what we love the most is dipping them into a creamy full-fat sauce.

The name of this sauce is either Creamy Mint Pesto (add a little mayo to the pesto) or Mint Pesto Mayonnaise (add a little pesto to the mayo), depending on how you like it. The zesty herb flavor and rich texture elevates grilled artichokes from delicious to divine.

Ingredients:

pesto ingredients
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped, loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped, loosely packed fresh parsley
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons to 1 cup mayonnaise

Instructions:

In a food processor blend walnuts, garlic and herbs. Drizzle in olive oil while blending until mixture is smooth.

Creamy Pesto

You can add a few tablespoons of pesto to a cup of mayonnaise, or add a few tablespoons of mayo to a cup of pesto – your choice! Finish with a squirt of lemon in the sauce and on the grilled artichokes. Relax and enjoy on a regular basis!

Grilled Artichokes1

You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. Mmmmmmmmmm…. :)

    Great recipe as always! Can’t wait to try out this one. I think I am going to go to the store now to get ingredients for this recipe. Wish me luck!!

    Mark wrote on June 11th, 2011
  2. Looks amazing, can’t wait to try it. And I wouldn’t feel right eating those without a giant slab of meat as a garnish ;)

    Nutritionator wrote on June 11th, 2011
  3. LOVE artichokes. Love them so much. I’m not sure people outside of California quite get how Cali folks feel about our artichokes. Best veggie ever.

    Though I’m a fan of homemade mayo with them. Yum.

    jj wrote on June 11th, 2011
  4. as you said…lots of work. too little food for too much work. I’ll pass on this one. Man, even the directions were long. But if I were to show up at a BBQ and they were available…Sounds great!

    Dasbutch wrote on June 11th, 2011
  5. My family stuffs our artichokes. It takes a little longer but is well worth the effort. Each leaf gets a small piece of jack cheese, onion and celery. Drop them into a pot with about an inch of water. Dab of butter, s&p, garlic salt and some (quite a lot) of parmeson cheese on top. Steam until a leaf pulls off tender. YUM!.

    Desi wrote on June 11th, 2011
  6. YUM

    Earthspirit wrote on June 11th, 2011
  7. Wow, this looks incredible!

    Tatianna wrote on June 11th, 2011
  8. If you’re doing large artichokes, use a pressure cooker. It takes about 20 minutes. Boiling on the stove top takes twice as long as that.

    Sami wrote on June 13th, 2011
  9. i’ve been wanting to try artichokes for a while so this article finally got me to do it. the verdict: good. but too much work to ever do again.

    April wrote on June 13th, 2011
  10. Artichoke with baconaise=pretty much the best thing ever!

    Jules wrote on June 13th, 2011
  11. YUM YUM YUM!! I LOVE artichokes but have only enjoyed a whole one ONCE. I can sense a change so soon!

    Primal Toad wrote on June 13th, 2011
  12. Grass-fed ghee + garlic, anyone?

    Mmm baconaise…

    Mmmm.... wrote on June 14th, 2011
  13. I agree. . too much work. All you really need to do for prep is cut the points off with a scissors and spread the petals out a bit, then rinse. Don’t cut the entire stem off. You can shave it down a bit with a knife. The center of the stem is an extension of the heart. I’ve wrapped artichokes in one of those microwave steam bags and waved it until the leaves were tender. Garlic butter, balsamic mayo, bacon mayo –dips are endless.

    Nick wrote on June 16th, 2011
    • i agree! never throw out the stem, its just as tender as the heart once cooked

      Joel wrote on July 5th, 2011
  14. I love artichokes to bits, but for some reason I haven’t eaten any in ages, not sure why. Now I have some great new recipes to try out though!

    I would also recommend to try and marinate artichokes, there’s this Lebanese restaurant that me and the boyfriend go to that serves up a mean marinated artichoke – perfect to munch on with some dip while you’re talking the night away.

    Malin wrote on June 19th, 2011
  15. This sounds delicious! I’m going to have to try this recipe… Even as a kid artichokes were always my favorite food. My mother made them in the microwave – steamed with water and then served with homemade hollandaise sauce to dip in. Yum…

    They won’t be quite as tender if you steam them in the micro, but they do keep more of their flavor – just prepare as as Mark describes above but leave whole and instead of boiling, you can pop them into a microwave safe container, drizzle with olive oil and parmesan cheese, opening the leaves so the cheese gets in there [it doesn't take a lot but gives a ton of flavor], and then if it’s a large artichoke, microwave 5-6 minutes [covered but not sealed]. Fast way to get your artichoke fix when you’re not up for firing up the grill [like in the N.E. in winter] or boiling in water. ;)

    You could probably also par-steam them and then throw them on the grill, too – which is what I’m going to do this weekend!

    Helena wrote on July 18th, 2013

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