We have a funny saying in our house when we see an unusual food product – the handsome hubby or I say, “Who first decided to try and eat THAT??!?”
Sometimes the “that” is very unusual, like durian (a tropical fruit that tastes amazing, if you can only get past it’s horrid smell) and sometimes it’s something that we eat on a daily basis, like cow’s milk. I mean, think about it. Someone must have said, “Well that baby cow seems to like it so….!?!”
All kinds of food products can fall into this conversation but the one that always makes me think these thoughts every spring is the artichoke.
I mean, seriously folks. Not only is the artichoke plant a little intimidating with it’s wide base and large leaf structure, but the edible part of the plant are the flower buds before the flowers come into bloom. Once the buds bloom, the structure changes to a coarse, barely edible plant again.
And who do you think figured this out?
Was Bob just sitting around one day, looked over at this plant and decided to take a bite? How many times did he try to eat the flower and choke on the choke (ha!) before he found a spoon and scooped that part out? And then how much longer did it take Bob to actually cook the artichoke and pair it with a delicious lemon-basil dipping sauce? Inquiring minds want to know!!
Well, no matter who did it, and how many times they had to try before they got to this perfect edible part of the plant, I would really like to thank the first person who looked at an artichoke and said, “Let’s eat THAT!!”
Thanks Bob! 😉
Artichokes are such a versatile veggie and you can cook them in a variety of ways including steaming, roasting, boiling, baking and braising. But my favorite way to enjoy these gorgeous spring vegetables? Grilled with a side of something yummy to dip them in!
Grilled artichokes take a little prep time, but I promise you that it is totally worth every minute it takes because the result is a warm, seasoned artichoke with caramelized edges and crispy bits. Serve them hot off the grill with a delicious lemon-basil aioli dipping sauce (recipe below) and you will have the best side dish at the bbq!
grilled artichokes with lemon-basil aioli
for the artichokes:
- 2 lemons
- 4 globe artichokes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
for the aioli:
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
for the artichokes:
- Cut both lemons in half. Squeeze the juice of the lemons into a large bowl, add the empty lemon halves to the bowl, and fill the bowl with cool water. Set aside. Working with one artichoke at a time, cut of the tips off of the leaves with kitchen scissors to remove the thorns. (This step is mostly for aesthetics as the thorns soften with cooking and pose no threat to the person eating the artichoke. But snipping them off will make the artichokes easier to handle.)Using a serrated knife, slice about 1 inch off the tip of the artichoke. Pull off any smaller leaves towards the base of the artichoke and on the stem. Trim the very end of the stem and discard.Cut the artichoke in half, placing both halves of the artichoke into the lemon water. (This will help prevent the artichokes from turning dark brown as you continue to prep them for cooking.)Remove one half of an artichoke from the water and scoop out the fuzzy choke in the center of the artichoke with a spoon. Discard the choke and return the artichoke to the lemon water. Repeat these steps with the remaining artichokes. Once all the artichokes have been trimmed and cleaned, place them cut-side-down into a steamer basket and steam them until a knife inserted into the heart comes out easily, about 7-10 minutes.Remove the artichokes from the steamer basket and allow them to cool.Heat your grill, or grill pan over high heat. Drizzle the artichokes with the olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Add the artichokes to the heated grill, cut side down, and cook them until they are caramelized and have crispy edges, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the artichokes from the grill, serve immediately with a side of lemon-basil aioli dipping sauce.
for the lemon-basil aioli:
- Combine the garlic clove, mustard and egg yolks in a food processor and puree until combined, around 10 seconds.Slowly drizzle the olive oil in a thin stream into the running food processor.Stop the food processor once the oil has been thoroughly combined with the egg mixture. Add the lemon zest, salt, pepper and basil, then pulse until incorporated.Pour the aioli into a container with a lid. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using to allow the flavors to meld.