Thursday, August 25, 2011

BBQ Artichokes & Parmesan

It's still barbecue season and it's still artichoke season. What a perfect combo.

For me, at least.

You all know by now that I love barbecue. I haven't been quiet about it. We're hitting the 100 degree mark in Los Angeles right now, so barbecue is one of the best ways to keep the house cool. No ovens on.

The great thing about artichokes is you can make them one to two days ahead, keep in the refrigerator, and then grill when ready.

Artichoke Trivia:

Ancient Greeks and Romans considered artichokes a delicacy and an aphrodisiac. 

The Roman naturalist Pliny called the artichoke "one of the earth’s monstrosities."

They were first written about in 371-287 B.C.,noted in the writings of Theophrastus.

Catherine de Medici (in 1500's) who was married to King Henry 11 (at the age of 14!)  is credited with making the artichoke famous: She was heard saying, "If one of us had eaten artichokes, we would have been pointed out on the street. Today young women are more forward than pages at the court."

Martha Washington's "Booke of Cookery" has a recipe entitled "To Make Hartichoak Pie."

More info than you wanted to know, right?

But artichokes have been around for ages and will continue to be, because they are now seen as a delicacy...these hard, almost angry looking plants that resemble cacti.

But they're easy to cook. I learned this method from a French chef at the restaurant where my husband proposed.

Perfect Artichokes

Bring a large pot of water to boil (12 cup or more). Squeeze in one lemon and add one teaspoon salt. [The lemon is to help the artichoke retain their color.]

Trim the stems from 2-4 large artichokes (3" in diameter). First cut off the butt end. Then trim off the hard and likely damaged outer leaves. I usually cut off 6-8 leaves. 

Next, trim off the upper thorny edges. I use a serrated knife. That seems to get through the hard flesh of the artichoke the easiest.

Lastly, fill the artichokes with water and then turn upside down to drain. This way you ensure that  any unfriendly critters will find their way into the sink. 

When the water is boiling, carefully set in the artichokes. They will bob and float. That's okay. Put on a lid and set the timer for 25 minutes. Pour off the water and let artichokes steam for 5 for more minutes.  Drain the artichokes, tips down, and cool.

These may be made 2 days ahead. 

When ready to barbecue, bring artichokes to room temperature. Cut the artichokes in half, remove the fine leaves and "hair" of the artichoke by using the tip of a knife. It will look like you've scooped out the artichoke.

Prepare your barbecue, setting it on high. [If using briquets, you want them hot!]

Baste the artichokes well with olive oil on all sides.  Set them on the barbecue round back side down first, after 1 minute, flip them to the flat (hollowed-out) side and grill for 3-4 minutes.

When ready to serve, sprinkle with lots and lots of Paremsan. It melts immediately. You can serve with drawn butter or a little more oil for dipping.



This is a perfect Labor Day side dish. Say cheese!


I'm having a giveaway of LOST AND FONDUE on Goodreads. If any of you are participating there, please go to your account, click on "explore", click on giveaway, search for LOST AND FONDUE or my name, and enter.

And I'll give away one MORE book to one of you today, if you mention right here on today's post that you're going to enter the Goodreads giveaway.

Good reading to all.

* * * * * * **


  1. My mother was a good plain cook, but I'm grateful that she introduced me to fresh vegetables early--including artichokes. Of course, anything you dip in butter to eat is fine by me.

  2. Barbeque!~ I love it, too. :) And artichokes are one of my favorite things to snack on. I love this idea, Avery, and will be making it soon!

  3. Sheila and Elizabeth, glad to see you enjoy the fruits of the "ugly" bush. I remember driving up through Carmel as a kid and asking what all those ugly cactus looking bushes were. Little did I know they produced one of my favorite foods.


  4. I grew up in California, so we ate artichokes regularly. My mother always cooked them in the pressure cooker, so that's what I do, too. But I've never grilled them before. And am heading to southern CA next week to visit Mommy, so I think I'll just bring home a couple of large ones and try this recipe. Thanks for the reminder, Avery!


  5. Love artichokes and cheese. What a combination.

    Entered the Goodreads giveaway yesterday. And when I figure out all of the features, will start commenting. You can rest assured I'll have nice things to say about The Long Quiche Goodbye, and I'm sure I'll enjoy Lost and Fondue and Clobbered with Camembert (on titles alone).

  6. Edith, my mom used to pressure cook them, as well, but I found they were overcooked, so when this chef who cooked them exactly the way I liked them and they were still appealingly green, I asked for the tip. It was light night and day to me.


    Liz, glad to hear you entered the giveaway and it's up and running. And thanks for the cute comment re: titles. Sometimes they can make or break a book, don't you think?


  7. BBQ season not over... IT's just getting started... finally today we are out of the 90's. Planning to grill tonight and I just happen to have a jar of marinated Artichoke Hearts waiting !!!

    Too small to grill like you suggest, but one of those hole filled grill pans and I am in!!!

    Great idea!

  8. Dave, great idea to use a grill Pam for smaller chokes. Sprinkle with Parmesan and tasty!

  9. You've brought back some lovely memories for me, Avery. Years ago, my dear aunt El moved to Southern California with my two cousins. We crossed the country to visit her, and she made fresh artichokes for everyone. I'd never tasted them fresh before, only the hearts in little jars. Great post. (Love your tip on getting rid of "unfriendly critters," and of course, Sheila makes the ultimate culinary comment. Anything you dip in butter is okay by me, too. :))

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  10. Cleo, isn't a cross-country trip fabulous? I did that with my son when he was 12. Great memories!

  11. I love the artichoke lore, Avery, and the romantic background to your cooking method. Can't wait to try it! Thank you.

  12. Mmm, yum! And I love the trivia. So we can add artichokes under chocolate on the aphrodisiac list?

  13. MJ, isn't it fun to remember little romantic moments?
    Rochelle, yes, an aphrodisiac! Anything eaten with the fingers and butter, right?

  14. Fantastic artichoke side dish.


  15. Grilled artichokes? I never would have thought it. What a great idea!

    ~ Krista

  16. I must try your recipe --- it sounds yummy. I also went over to Goodreads and entered your contest for "Lost and Fondue"---cooking mysteries are always such fun.

  17. Sue, I'm so glad you enjoy cooking mysteries. You'll sure find a bunch among the group on this blog. Enjoy! And good luck on Goodreads.

    Check back here, occasionally, too, because I'll be having more giveaways until the end of the year.



  18. Libby, isn't Goodreads a great way to find out about new books? Enjoy.