this past sunday, i picked up a big bag of baby artichokes for marinating, and researching this week’s seasonal eats for LAist. my favorite seller for tender organically-grown baby artichokes, tutti frutti farms, has just started carrying them this past month. i was all set to do a traditional marinade when i read about grilled artichokes, and wondered, can’t we grill them first and then marinate them for a toasty, smoky flavor? why not!
when you prepare baby artichokes, nearly all recipes will require that you trim them. the photo above shows the 3 stages of trimming, where the 2 on the left are un-trimmed baby artichokes. first you pull out the tougher outer leaves, and finally trim the tops of the remaining leaves and shave down the stem into a cone, so as not to cut away much of the heart. as you work, drop the trimmed artichokes into acidulated water to prevent discoloration, which can be made by adding lemon juice or citric acid to a bowl of water.
while reading up on artichokes, i was interested to find that artichokes are the highest known anti-oxidant vegetable, and that many cultures have made parts of the plant into tea for liver health. sure enough, the leaves are a great source for tea-brewing, so i saved all my outer leaves in the trimming process, boiled up some water and steeped a whole pot of them. i can safely say i have more artichoke tea than i know what to do with, but it sweetens up nicely with a bit of honey, so i guess i’ll drink some every day.
following the cue from another recipe, i cooked the chokes 8 minutes in boiling water, dunked into cold water, sliced in half lengthwise, drizzled with olive oil, and set over a heated grill sprinkled with mesquite chips. the pre-cooking helps infuse the flower heads with water, so they won’t char quickly, but watch them and check frequently, since they’re small. as they become toasty brown, turn over and grill the outer side.
on the stove, boil 1 cup white wine or white balsamic vinegar, juice of 1 lemon, and 1 cup water in a saucepan. once the mix reaches a boil, drop in 20 peppercorns to steep. once the artichokes are grilled, you’re ready to pack them up. i chose to add 1 chopped preserved lemon for extra flavor, along with 2 sprigs marjoram and a few small sprigs thyme for each jar.
place some chopped preserved lemon in the bottom of each jar, and work in layers, adding 4 grilled artichoke halves, a sprig of thyme, and more preserved lemon until you’ve packed all the artichokes. halfway through, slide the sprigs of marjoram into the outer edge of the jars so they stand vertically as you pack the jars.
once you’ve packed all the grilled artichokes, pour equal amounts of the boiled mixture into each jar, topping off with water to cover. let jars come to room temperature, then store in the fridge.
Marinated Grilled Artichokes
24 tender baby artichokes
juice of 2 lemons
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 minced preserved lemon, or zest of both fresh lemons
4 sprigs marjoram or oregano
6 small sprigs thyme
20 black peppercorns
olive oil & salt for cooking & packing
If you’re grilling with charcoal, start the coals and soak mesquite chips if you have them. If you’re cooking with gas, heat the grill a few minutes ahead of when the artichokes are done, below.
Trim the baby artichokes by pulling off tougher outer leaves, cutting off tops, and paring down stems to a point. As you work, drop each into a bowl of acidulated water to prevent discoloration, made by adding the juice of 1 lemon to the bowl.
Heat a pot of water to a boil and drop the artichokes in, cooking for 8 minutes, to saturate with water and soften. Remove from heat and return to acidulated water bath to cool down. Drain, cut the artichokes in half lengthwise, dump the acidulated water, return to the bowl and drizzle with olive oil for grilling.
If you’re using coal, sprinkle soaked mesquite chips over the hot coals just before grilling. Start by grilling the artichokes cut-side-down to cook the hearts through. Check frequently, and turn when they show a toasty-brown color. Grill the outsides to a toasty brown for color and flavor. As the artichokes cook, heat a saucepan with the juice of 1 lemon, vinegar and 1 cup of water. Add the peppercorns once it reaches a boil and turn off heat. Let the marinade steep as the artichokes finish grilling.
Clean 2 canning jars, and add a pinch of lemon zest & salt (or minced preserved lemon packed in salt) to the bottom. Layer in 4 artichoke halves with pinches of zest and salt with the occasional sprig of thyme and stack artichokes in the jars. Halfway up, wedge the marjoram or oregano along the side of the jar, so it may impart flavor to the stack. Continue layering until all the artichokes are packed. Pour the hot marinate liquid over the top, and top off with water if necessary. Store in the fridge until ready to use.