An artichoke is an intimidating kind of vegetable. I’ve seen it a lot on restaurant menus and supermarket dips, but it is definitely unconventional. It looks like a cactus or flower with sharp edges. I’m more of a meat guy, but since my wife loves artichokes, I decided to give it a try on the grill, and I was blown away by the flavor!
Artichokes are known to be “California’s vegetable” as nearly 100% of the commercially produced artichokes in the US are produced in California. They’re available all year round but the peak season is March through May. Artichokes are very healthy and they’re full of flavor. They are full of protein, antioxidants and fibers. One medium sized artichoke head is also full of vitamin C, and is only 25 calories!*
Grilling the artichoke really brings out the flavor. Although its a bit lengthy to prepare, people have fun eating artichokes.
- Prepare the artichokes: Start by cutting off about a third of the top of the artichoke, rub a little lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Then cut off the leaves at the bottom of the stem, mainly the ones that are free standing and dried out. Finally, peel the stem and cut off all but about an inch. Rub a little more lemon juice.
- Place the artichokes on a steamer. Steam the artichokes for about 30 to 40 minutes, until the inner leaves pull out easily.
- Towards the end of the steaming time, light your charcoal to get the grill ready.
- Remove the artichokes from the steamer. Cut the artichokes in half and remove the choke (which is the fuzzy part, and is not edible!). Just scoop it out with a spoon.
- Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt to prepare them for the grill.
- Grill the artichokes for a few minutes on both sides. You only need a few char marks so that the artichokes absorb the charcoal flavors. Grilling them for a bit will really pop the flavor of the artichokes!
People find it fun to eat artichokes because you can eat them with your hands. Peel the outside leaves and slide them one by one through your teeth, with the meat side down, so you can ‘scrape’ the meat on each of the leaves with your bottom teeth. Once you’ve peeled all the leaves, you are left with the artichoke heart, which you can eat it all, and is absolutely delicious!
The artichoke heart you can quarter or chop it up, and you can put it on dip as a starter, or eat it as a vegetable or side dish. You can also add them to pastas or pizzas.
* To find out more about artichokes and cool recipes with the grilled artichokes, visit the California Artichoke Advisory Board: http://artichokes.org/
Once you’ve grilled artichokes, tell us in the comments - are you a fan?
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