Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Veggie Variety: Grilled Artichokes

As a Mom, a lot of what I do is food based-- buying food, preparing food, serving food, etc. When you add in an effort to try to get the family to eat more whole foods-- fruits, veggies and whole grains, you also have to add in a LOT of recipe research as well! 

I've been following several blogs, skimming pinterest and checking in with my facebook recipe group to get new ideas for familiar healthy foods or how to instructions for preparing foods that are completely new to me. I thought I'd return the favor with this family summer favorite-- grilled artichokes.  This is a great, kid friendly appetizer or side dish. Kids love it because they get to 1) disassemble something, 2) eat with their hands & 3) use dip!

      • Completely unnecessary side story: at the Little Miss pageant my Mom misguidedly entered me into when I was about 7 (long, long before things went nutty like on toddlers & tiaras), we were asked what our favorite food was -- all the other girls said normal things like pizza, spaghetti, burgers, etc. Not me, I said artichokes! Needless to say, I did NOT win.

Choosing An Artichoke:

  • find one that has a good weight, unwilted leaves, and less purple streaks near the base: artichokes get more and more purple as they get close to blooming and that means less edible parts. Expect to pay $1-3 apiece. (Yikes, I know!! But its better than spending $8 at a restaurant!)

Prepping Your Artichoke:

  • cut off stem close to the base. You can discard (or pare off tough exterior and cook with the rest)
  • if its particularly prickly, you can also cut off the top 1-2 inches of the pointy end (although I rarely bother and its usually not a problem)
  • cut in half lengthwise
  • use a large metal spoon to scoop out  and discard the thistly part (the choke of artichokes) and any purple leaves. This is NOT edible. Don't worry if you don't get it all, you can tidy up after cooking.

Pre-cooking Your Artichoke:

  • Drop your artichoke halves into a large pot of boiling water. Cover & keep at a low/medium boil for about 20 minutes. Artichokes are ready when a knife will slide into the base near the stem with a slight resistance (you don't want them too soft or they will disintegrate on the grill)

Prepare your Marinade:

  • For 2 artichokes (4 halves), mix together 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tsp crushed garlic (about 2 cloves), dash of salt & pepper.
  • Whisk together and spoon over cut (open) side of artichokes, so that the oil flows into the nooks and crevices between the leaves.

Heat up your Grill:

  • Place artichoke halves, cut side DOWN, on preheated grill over a medium/high heat. Grill until edges have a nice slight char--about 5-10 minutes.

Serving your Artichoke:

  • You will want a dipping sauce. The simplest is a small bowl of melted butter. You can also whip up the mock aioli sauce below: (I know its not a real aioli but mayonnaise will give you the same basic idea)
    • Tangy Balsamic Aioli:
      •  1/2 cup mayonnaise (do NOT sub miracle whip)
      • 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
      • 1 Tbs champagne vinegar (sub red wine or apple cider if you don't have this and add a PINCH of sugar)
      • 1 tsp crushed garlic (1 clove)
      • Mix together until well combined, makes 4 servings!

Eating your Artichoke:

  • Remove outer leaves first, dip previously attached end of leaf, scrape "meat" off of leaf with your teeth (this is the fun part for kids), toss leaves into scrap bowl. Repeat & enjoy!
  • When you get to the base of the artichoke there will be a core left, this is the heart of the artichoke and the very best part. Inspect to make sure all of the thistly choke has been removed, cut into pieces, dip and eat!

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