Grilled Artichokes with Italian Green Sauce, Salsa Verde, is a feast for the senses. It is slightly sweet, salty, tart, hot from peperoncino, and smoky from the grill. Celebrate Spring with the first arrivals in the marketplace, those desirable small artichokes, carciofini, entirely edible without choke. Or choose compact medium-sized artichokes with small chokes that are easy to remove. Either type will suit this preparation. Be sure to cook the artichokes twice.
Cook fresh raw artichokes one of three ways: boil, steam, or microwave. If you have not tried microwaving fresh artichokes, please do. Of course, it is quick. What surprises is how kindhearted microwaving is to the raw artichoke and its heart. It is much better than boiling or steaming in maintaining the artichoke's character and firm texture, and with brighter color, too. Microwaving is so beneficial, you may be enjoying fresh artichokes a lot more often!
Once cooked through, grill. Lace the artichokes with Salsa Verde. Accent both with a bit of crunchy carrots, soft mache, young escarole or frilly frisee crisp to the bite. Provide splashes of color and texture as counterpoint to intrigue the eye as well as the palate. It looks humble, but each bite tastes just a little bit different because both stars of the dish, Grilled Artichokes and Salsa Verde, continually provide change in perception. Your guests will definitely remain focused on your creation! Accompany with grilled Ciabatta bread, focaccia, or flat bread. Serve as an antipasto or vegetable salad or side dish.
4 servings. Cooking Time is 3 to 5 minutes microwaving, 15 minutes boiling, or 20 minutes steaming medium-sized fresh artichokes. Grilling is 3 to 4 minutes.
8 fresh small edible artichokes or 4 medium-sized globe artichokes
1 lemon in bowl of cold water for acidulated water bath when trimming raw artichokes
Extra-virgin olive oil or grape seed for brushing cooked artichokes
Escarole, frisee, mache, or micro greens
Fresh Italian parsley
Shredded raw carrots
Flake sea salt or coarse grain salt
Salsa Verde: Click for the recipe
Preparation – Fresh Artichokes: Make the acidulated water bath by filling a bowl with cold water. Cut the lemon in half, squeeze the juice into the water, then float lemon halves in the water. Trim off tough outer leaves from each artichoke and discard or reserve for another use. Also trim off the tips of the leaves and discard.
Split artichokes in half or quarters lengthwise. Examine. Unless the artichokes are young and entirely edible, right above the heart is a crown of fuzzy fibers – the choke – which needs to be removed. A melon ball scooper or a grapefruit spoon are very effective in easily removing the choke. If not available, use a small sharp knife or pointed spoon to scrape away the choke then discard the fibers. Using a paring knife or vegetable peeler, remove tough skin from the stems and level the bottom of the stem. Immediately immerse in the cold water bath. The lemon reduces discoloration of the artichokes. (Refrigerate at this point, with cleaned artichokees immersed in the acidulated water bath until ready for the first cooking.)
First Cooking: Boil, Steam, or Microwave
Boiling or Steaming: Transfer the cut lemon from the bowl of cold water to the cooking pot. The lemon mildly flavors the artichokes during cooking.
Medium-sized artichokes: Boil for about 15 minutes or until just tender when pierced with a fork. Steam for 20 minutes or until just tender when pierced with a fork.
Microwaving: Raw artichokes cook in a few minutes in the microwave, and have a slightly brighter artichoke-green color once cooked. Remove the trimmed artichokes from the water bath and drain, but do not dry. Leave a bit of water clinging to the artichoke. Put into a container, suitable for microwaving. Add a spoonful or two of water from the water bath to the container. Cover. Microwave until just tender when pierced with a fork.
Second Cooking: Grill or Grill Pan
Grilling: Lightly coat cooked artichokes with oil. Preheat the grill or grill pan. Place artichokes flat on the grill or in the grill pan. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes for medium-sized artichokes, usually 2 minutes for the first side down, turn over, then 1 minute for the second side because the artichoke has already absorbed heat.
Plating: Place leafy greens on each serving plate. Arrange grilled artichokes on top. Garnish with fresh Italian parsley and shredded raw carrots. Sprinkle flake sea salt or coarse grains over all. Lace the grilled artichokes with Salsa Verde, enjoy.