Being from a little town in Iowa, I had no exposure to whole fresh artichokes growing up. I had never seen one, never eaten one and certainly never cooked one. I had tasted jarred and canned artichoke hearts but really didn’t really love them. The canned ones seemed to taste more like the can than anything and the jarred ones with oil and herbs, although much better, didn’t excite me either. Then I moved to San Diego which opened a whole new world of appreciation for fresh artichokes.
Artichokes seemed to be on every menu and everyone seemed to love them. Being a chef, I figured I better get up to speed on my artichoke skills and quick! The technique I want to share with you today is how to grill an artichoke since it is a technique I rarely see. I don’t know why this isn’t served more at restaurants because it is so delicious!
Artichokes are somehow delicate and strong in both flavor and texture; these two qualities lend themselves perfectly to the grill. The structure stands up to the heat and makes it easy to move around and the delicate taste is brought to life with the caramelization of the grill marks.
I have already filmed a tutorial on how to steam an artichoke, which is certainly the most classic preparation and the first step before you can grill your artichokes.
You can stop right there and eat the artichoke steamed and served either cold or hot with drawn butter or aioli. My favorite way to eat an artichoke is to grill it after it is steamed. Early June is the tail end of artichoke season, and artichokes are one of the best grilled vegetables. Grilling seems to take everything that is good about an artichoke and kick it up a notch.
You need moisture to cook an artichoke properly, so throwing a raw artichoke onto your grill without steaming it first would be a real challenge and provide a pretty dry and crispy result. Artichokes provide an edible heart and small amounts of edible flesh at the base of each leaf. If you dry out the leaves too much in the cooking process, it can also dry out that edible flesh at the base.
For this recipe, you will want to steam the artichoke first and then as an additional step, slather it inside and out with garlic aioli. This both keeps the artichoke moist and seasons every inch of it, and it also keeps the artichoke from sticking to the grill.
Step 1: Make the aioli
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup olive oil
Add all ingredients except oils to your blender and process until garlic is chopped. Drizzle oil in slowly, starting with a very light but steady stream. Feel free to toss fresh tarragon or dill into your aioli at the end if you desire!
Step 2: Prepare the artichoke
Prepare artichoke by cutting it in half. Remove the thistle from the center and coat the whole thing with aioli making sure to spread some between the leaves.
Step 3: Grill the artichoke
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill over a direct heat on your stove top, charcoal or gas grill just until it starts to char, about 3 or 4 minutes per side.
I love to serve this with slices of lemon, sprinkles of fresh herbs and olives. It’s a great light lunch or dinner, but it is a stellar side dish to grilled chicken or risotto, especially my sweet corn version.
If you want to learn more about grilling vegetables, check out our upcoming Grilled Vegetable Ratatouille virtual class on Thursday, June 18 at 6pm CST. If you are veggie-centric, don't miss Homemade Falafel virtual class on Friday, June 12 at 6pm CST. And if seasonal is your game, I’ll be featuring local Michigan strawberries in my upcoming Strawberry Shortcake virtual class this Saturday, June 13 at 11am CST. Hope to see you soon!