One of my all-time favorite spring/summer vegetables is Artichoke. As a kid I remember eating them with my Dad, simply boiled and dipped in tons of salted butter—yum!
A few weeks ago when I went to a chef friend’s new restaurant, they served them grilled with lemon, a (mystery) seasoning and aioli for dipping. It’s still a very simple preparation, but with even more flavor than my old standby. So as I do, I decided recreate his dish at home. After fiddling around in my pantry for a while I decided on a combination of garlic powder, minced onion, fennel seed, salt and pepper.
One of the key ingredients in this recipe is the lemon. Grilling them concentrates the sugars and makes it slightly sweeter than normal while still retaining the bright acidity that enhances all the other flavors.
I love the anise-like flavor of fennel seed, but if you don’t like the flavor of fennel, by all means leave it out. Since the fennel is still in seed form I like to pulse it in a spice grinder so it’s the same consistency of the rest of the seasonings. If you don’t have a spice grinder, follow the affiliate link here for the one I use. I have one for spices and one for coffee beans so I don’t have to worry about contaminating the flavor of my coffee. I highly recommend having a spice grinder on hand, especially if you’re someone who tries to eat clean. I like to make my own spice blends for things like sausages and other prepared meats since they often have added sugar, nitrates and other preservatives. Consider leaving out the fennel seed if you don’t have a spice grinder or don’t want to buy one, since the seeds are a little too crunchy when whole. I’ve also made this recipe with just lemon pepper or Lawry’s seasoning which were both super delicious and easy. You really can’t go wrong here, just use flavor combinations you like.
I made these artichokes a few weeks ago for a dinner party when visiting my sister up north. We just plopped the artichokes in the middle of the table as a family style appetizer, they were the perfect addition to our meal of lettuce wrapped burgers, salad and white wine. It was such lovely night and basically my favorite thing to do ever; dining alfresco on warm summer night under twinkle lights. Good food, family and friends, and refreshing adult beverages, it doesn’t get better in my book.
During our dinner party, a few friends mentioned that they’d never eaten artichokes this way and didn’t know how! If you fall into this camp don’t worry, your life is about to get a lot better. You simply peel the artichoke back one leaf at a time, taking the leaf and dipping the bottom of it into whatever sauce you’re using, then scrape the bottom part of the leaf (where all the “meat” is) off with your teeth. It takes a little effort but it’s sort of like eating fresh crab or peanuts at ballgame, a little labor intensive but totally worth it. Once you’ve gotten through all the leaves you can dig right into the best part, the artichoke heart—bon appétit!
(Serves 4, half an artichoke per person)
- 2 medium artichokes
- 2 lemons
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp minced onion
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 1/8 tsp fennel seed
- 4 tbsp butter (1 tbsp per person)
- Prep the artichokes by thoroughly rinsing them, being sure to rinse between the leaves. Peel off the bottom layer or two of leave (they’re usually a little dry and shriveled up). Then cut about a half inch off the top of each artichoke.
- Place them whole, into a pot of salted boiling water and simmer covered for about 30-45 minutes—longer if you bought the jumbo Globe variety. (You can place a lid that’s smaller than the size of the pot on top of the artichokes to keep them fully submerged in water, then cover with the regular lid to cook) They’re finished when a small knife slides easily through the stem.
- Remove from the water and set aside to cool for about 10-15 minutes so they’re cool enough to handle.
- While the artichokes are cooling combine the garlic powder, minced onion, fennel seed, salt and pepper in a spice grinder and pulse until the mixture is fine.
- Once cooled, slice each artichoke in half lengthwise and remove the “furry” choke with a spoon.
- Drizzle olive oil over each half, and sprinkle the seasoning making sure to get both the oil and seasoning inside the nooks and crannies of the leaves.
- Slice the lemons in half. Place the lemons and artichokes cut side down on a hot grill and sear for about 5-7 minutes, just enough to get some good char marks.
- Remove from grill and sprinkle with the remaining seasoning, and a squeeze of grilled lemon.
Serve with melted butter for dipping. You can also try aioli which you can find at any specialty food store, or if you’re really ambitious you can follow this recipe and make your own.