I have to admit I was a little surprised to find artichokes this week in my Farmers’ Feast basket from the Ottawa Farmers’ Market – for some reason, I thought they only grew in warmer climates than ours. While I love artichokes now (this pasta dish is a real favourite in our house), I never tasted them until I was in my 30s as they just seemed a little unapproachable. In fact, they rank up there pretty high on my list of foods that make me wonder who the first brave soul was to experiment to see if they were edible. In the past, I’ve usually just steamed artichokes and served with lemon butter but now, after tasting them grilled, I’ll never prepare them any other way. When you eat the cooked artichokes, the customary method is to peel off the leaves, starting with the outer one, and dip the thick end in the garlic-butter-lemon mixture. If you’re a little impatient, like my husband, you might want to just dig in and pull out the centre ‘choke’ and eat that, ignoring the fiddly leaves. This dish works best with tender young artichokes although you could also make it with larger, more mature ones, but be advised that the chokes may be a little tough to eat.
- 6 small artichokes
- 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice, divided
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- salt and pepper
- Preheat barbeque to medium-high.
- Prepare the artichokes by stripping off the first layer of two of tough outer leaves. Trim the stems to about 1/4 inch (6 mm) and cut the top 1/2 inch (1.25) off the pointy top of the artichoke. If the artichokes are not tender young ones, you may also need to snip the spiky tips off the leaves with a pair of scissors. Put the prepared artichokes in a steamer basket.
- In a broad pan with a tight lid, put enough water to come to just below the base of the steamer basket. Add 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the lemon juice. Put the steamer basket with the artichokes in it into the pan and cover with the lid.
- Bring to a boil over high heat; when the pot comes to boil, reduce heat to medium-high.
- Steam the artichokes for 10 – 15 minutes until the stem ends are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.
- While artichokes are steaming, put butter and garlic in a heatproof bowl and microwave on medium-low heat for 2 minutes to melt butter and slightly cook the garlic. Add lemon juice and stir well.
- Remove the cooked artichokes from the pan and place on a cutting board. Slice them in half from top to stem end.
- Brush the cut sides of the artichokes with the butter mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Grill, cut sides down, for about 5 – 7 minutes, until artichokes are very slightly charred.
- Serve with remaining butter mixture for dipping.
Serves 2 – 4.