Sunday, February 8, 2009

Art of the Chokes

I love artichokes - don't get me wrong - but I'm not always a fan of the traditional method of eating them. Translation: artichoke leaf as a conduit for melted butter or a big scoop of aioli. Oh who am I kidding? I love that method too! But my waistline and my conscience don't, so I shy away from that preparation in lieu of this flavorful and much more healthful adaptation. When grilling artichokes, I often prefer to use small globe or even baby artichokes so that you can eat the whole darn thing - not just the bitty nub of goodness at the end of the more mature artichoke leaves. And the beauty of this recipe? No butter or mayo in sight - the artichokes are delicious all on their own.

Grilled Artichokes
  • Small globe or baby artichokes, stems and leaves trimmed
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Grill seasoning of your choice; McCormick brand makes several readily-available tasty combinations in its Grill Mates line of products (I make my own with a combination of dried minced garlic, gray sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper, red pepper flakes, a dash of smoked paprika and a dash of chili powder)
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
Start by steaming the artichokes until they are soft at the base of the leaves (you can easily stick a fork in to the choke), and the leaves pull away easily. Don't overcook them at this stage - they still have to stand up to the grill. Once they are finished steaming, slice them in half lengthwise when they are cool enough to handle.

With a teaspoon, gently remove and discard any of the bristly choke that sits atop the artichoke heart. Liberally squeeze lemon juice on the face of the artichokes, as well as in between the leaves (spread the leaves apart gently with your fingers to get the lemon juice down into its base). Coat each artichoke with olive oil. Dust the face of the artichoke with a mixture of grill seasoning and Parmesan cheese; also sprinkle the mixture down among the leaves using the same gentle spreading action employed for the lemon juice.

Place the artichokes on a hot oiled grill. Cook for 3-5 minutes per side, or until artichokes are nicely charred.

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