Have They Invented a New Vegetable Yet?
Smartipoke, partismoke, Okee-Doke -- feathered apple!
That last tagline is a bit from a Three Stooges routine in the short "Sock-a-Bye Baby," when they were trying to feed an artichoke to an abandoned baby. Poor Curly couldn't quite figure out what in the heck those things were called.
I knew. I grew up in California, which grows most of the U.S artichoke supply. Even as a child, I knew what they were and how good and fun they were to eat. I also loved the Three Stooges and, for some reason, just happen to remember the artichoke routine almost word for word to this day.
I have introduced many people to artichokes over the years. I remember long ago a business colleague of my husband's visiting from Canada. I made a nice dinner, including artichokes, and he just sucked his down. I felt so bad when he asked for seconds - - I had made only one each, which is usually all anyone eats. I was a very young bride back then, but I learned to always make extra. If nothing else you can eat the leftovers later.
Anyway, this is the column I was going to write last week when I got distracted by the news of McDain's Restaurant banning kids under age 6 and decided to write about that instead. It's really sort of a continuation of the column topic of the week before that, which was how easy it is to get into a rut when cooking.
That's when you need to turn to something just a little different or special to make dinner interesting again.
Artichokes aren't as simple to grill as most vegetables, and they tend to be expensive. But they are so delicious grilled that once you've tried them, you'll be looking for ways to fit them into your time and budget.
Like the turkey legs I wrote about two weeks ago, artichokes are also just plain fun to eat. They're hands-on and teeth-on, and you can't help but enjoy them.
Some people don't think artichokes are kid-friendly, but Curly and I know better. My kids have been eating them since they were very young.
The recipe for grilled artichokes is below. I also enlisted one of my kids to take lots of pictures that illustrate the steps involved in preparing the artichoke.
Whatever you call them, once you try this amazing vegetable, you'll be hooked.
Recipe: Grilled Artichokes
When eating artichokes, you're really just scraping the meat off the ends of the leaves with your teeth and then removing the choke and eating the heart. In the case of grilled artichokes, the choke has already been removed.
- Artichokes, one per person plus an extra one or two, just in case
- Olive oil
- Garlic, minced
- Cut top off artichoke.
- Hold by stem to trim ends of spiny leaves (see photo), then cut stem flush with artichoke bottom.
- Put in shallow, microwave-safe dish with about 1/4 inch of water in the bottom. Cover with waxed paper (I do not use plastic wrap in the microwave as it leeches chemicals into the food).
- Cook for about 15 minutes (you don't want them cooked completely, they will be too mushy).
- Cool in a colander until cool enough to handle.
- Preheat grill to medium-high.
- Slice artichokes in half lengthwise, beginning at the stem end (see photo). Using a combination of a spoon and sharp knife, remove choke (the fuzzy stuff). Be careful not to remove any of the heart, that's the meat of the artichoke.
- Brush cut sides with olive oil and garlic and place cut side down on the grill. Grill for about 3 to 5 minutes, until just hot and charred.
- Dip in melted butter or any favorite dip, if desired.