I came home from my Northern California honeymoon in April with very few souvenirs but I did bring back a new favorite new-to-me vegetable: fresh artichokes!
We stayed in Monterey for a few nights during the trip and on the drive there, we drove through Castroville, known as the “Artichoke Center of the World.” Since we were staying so close to a place with such a title, I made it my goal to try fresh California artichokes before we left town.
My previous experience with artichokes was limited and always of the canned or jarred in brine variety. While I didn’t dislike these canned artichokes, I also won’t go so far as to say I adored them. They were fine mixed in with other food but not something I’d ever wanted to eat on their own. In addition, not all canned or jarred artichokes are created equal and some brands that I’ve tried were just not good.
But in California, I learned that fresh steamed artichokes are absolutely fantastic on their own with just a little bit of lemon mayonnaise on the side.
When we returned to Virginia, a package of artichokes was one of the first items I bought at the grocery store. Rather than serving them steamed as I’d had them in California, I prepared them another way that I saw them on a menu in Carmel: steamed lightly and fire roasted. And rather than mucking up a good thing, I also served my artichokes with lemon mayonnaise.
These artichokes turned out so well that I’ve made them a few more times since and will likely grab a package anytime I see them on the shelf at Trader Joe’s.
A vague recipe for preparing these follows as I wasn’t particularly scientific about making them.
Fire-Roasted Artichokes with Lemon Garlic Mayonnaise
Note: If you’ve never prepared fresh artichokes before, there is a great tutorial/recipe at Simply Recipes. Although I didn’t use this recipe, I did take similar steps to prepare my artichokes.
Serves 2 or 3 as an appetizer
4 medium artichokes, cleaned and trimmed
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1. Slice each artichoke in half vertically (this is so they’ll sit on the grill nicely) and steam with water, a few splashes of lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Steam for about 15 minutes or until the stem of the artichokes feels tender when pierced with a fork.
2. While the artichokes are steaming, prepare the lemon garlic mayonnaise. If you are inclined to make homemade mayonnaise, do it. If not, jarred mayonnaise works just fine (I prefer Duke’s as it’s nice and lemony). Stir together mayonnaise, minced garlic and 2 teaspoons lemon juice. If you’d like it with a little more lemon or a little more garlic, feel free to adjust the amounts to your liking. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
3. Remove artichokes from steamer and place in a bowl. Drizzle with a few more splashes of lemon juice and a few splashes of olive oil. Sprinkle with a little more salt to taste. Set aside to cool and absorb the lemon and olive oil flavor.
4. Prepare the grill. I use charcoal but gas probably works just as well. And if you’re without a grill, you could roast these in the oven until they’re browned and a little crisp.
5. Place artichoke halves on the grill. Turn them every couple of minutes and cook until they’re a little bit charred and a little bit crisp. There’s not really a wrong way to do this unless you set them on fire.
6. Serve warm with the mayonnaise on the side for dipping (and look at the Simply Recipes link again to see how to eat them).
|About the contributor:|
|Melissa McKelvey shares her recipes and adverntures on her website, The Boastful Baker. She also writes the Bites and Morsels column here on Indie Fixx, which appears bimonthly on Mondays. Read more about her on the contributors’ page.|