I love artichokes but, like everyone else on the face of the Earth, hate preparing them. Baby artichokes dramatically cuts the work and still has the delicious nutty and vegetal flavor of their mature brethren. Grilling them imparts a delicious smoky taste and makes the flesh much more succulent. I found myself mindlessly eating one after another, enjoying the herbs and charred flavor. This is the side dish no one would expect but everyone will be reaching for. Yields 4 to 8 servings, depending on how you serve them.
- 2 pounds baby artichokes
- 15 to 20 sprigs cilantro
- 20 to 25 sprigs parsley
- 4 to 6 stalks scallion
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- If using a charcoal grill, set it up for two-zone grilling and get the charcoal going now.
- Finely mince the cilantro and parsley down to the bottommost 2 inches of stem. Halve the scallions lengthwise then finely slice crosswise; quarter lengthwise if very large. Finely mince the garlic. Throw the cilantro, parsley, scallions and garlic into a pile on the cutting board and run your knife through it several times until well mixed and well minced. Scrape into a bowl.
- Add the zest of a lemon, oil, salt, and pepper. Taste for salt, scoop out a big spoonful to a separate dish and set aside.
- Clean baby artichokes as you would a mature one. Slice off the top inch of artichoke, widthwise. Pull off the outermost layer of leaves. Halve then drop into a bowl of acidulated water while you prepare them.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the artichokes and boil for about 2 minutes, until they're just tender to the point of a knife. Drain, shake the water off, and immediately toss with the larger bowl of herb sauce. Toss very well to ensure every nook and cranny is coated.
- Grill over coals or on high heat until artichokes are well browned on the cut side, then flip and brown to almost charred. If using charcoal, be sure to spritz flareups.
- Sprinkle the cut sides with more salt and serve with the reserved sauce and lemon wedges.