Laurie and I love to come up with ingenious ways to outdo ourselves for our decadent sunset meals in the lovely hills. We scoff at the other attendees’ Gelson’s boxed picnics and scheme week after week to achieve the perfect combinations in our homemade extravaganzas. My timing gets pretty tight because I have an 8-5 job almost 100 miles east of the Hollywood Bowl, so I rush home to pack whatever I prepared the night before. This week, we turned the task of making the appetizer over to our nephew Ryan, who loves classical music and German techno rock equally, and who is a damned good cook too. (We’re so lucky in our nephews: they’re smart, they’re fun and they cook!) A couple of years ago Ryan ran across an artichoke recipe that caught his eye, but he quickly made it his own.
This is a pretty simple recipe, in keeping with our motto: entertain without killing yourself or your budget. (Parties come in all sizes, after all–and this is a party for four.)
Grilled Garlic Artichokes
2 large artichokes
1 lemon, zested and then quartered (use two lemons if they’re small)
¾ cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, stripped from the stems
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Fill a large bowl with cold water. Zest the lemon or lemons and then cut them into quarters. Place the zest in a medium bowl; you’ll be using it in the grilling sauce. Squeeze the juice from one lemon wedge into the water. Trim the the artichokes, then cut them in quarters lengthwise. Remove the chokes and place the quarters in the bowl of lemon water to keep them from turning brown.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat your outdoor grill to medium high.
Add the artichokes to the boiling water and cook for 10 minutes; they should be bright green when you take them off the fire. Drain the artichokes. Juice the remaining lemon quarters and pour the juice into the bowl with the lemon zest. Stir in the olive oil and garlic, season with salt and pepper and the herbs. These herbs are merely guidelines; if you prefer tarragon or basil, go ahead and use them. Sometimes Ryan adds a little mustard if he’s in the mood.
Brush the artichokes with the garlic marinade and place them on the hot grill. Grill the artichokes for five to ten minutes, basting with marinade and turning frequently, until the tips are a little charred. Pour any remaining marinade over the charred artichokes (though there usually isn’t any, so you may want to increase the quantities slightly if you want extra) and pack into a picnic container. We generally use zip-lock plastic bags, which are lightweight and disposable if you’re so minded. Ryan usually keeps them warm for a couple hours by popping them into his un-iced chest. They are always still warm by the time our picnic supper starts at 6:45 at the Bowl.
Serves four as an appetizer–though I have served them by themselves for dinner, along with some yummy grilled bread and extra marinade.
Simple, huh? They don’t taste simple; they’re delicious.