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Grill The Flower Of The Season

The Early Show, artichokes, 05/23/02
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Finally, the weather is warm enough for Early Show resident chef Bobby Flay to fire up his grill for a pre-Memorial Day feast. Of course, don't expect anything commonplace like burgers or grilled corn. Instead, the dish du jour is grilled artichoke.

About Artichokes

An artichoke is actually a big thistle plant native to the Mediterranean. First developed in Sicily, the artichoke made its way through Greek and Roman culture as far back as 77 AD. The Moors near Granada, Spain, cultivated the artichoke back in 800 AD. In 1548, England came upon the choke, but it was unfortunately not well received. By the 1600s, Spanish settlers to the New World brought the artichoke to California, where it did not become widely used until the 1920s. Monterey, Calif. is the primary cultivator of artichokes in the United States.

Peak Season: March through May and (to a smaller degree) in October.

Basic Preparation:

  1. Wash under cold running water
  2. Pull off small or discolored lower petals
  3. Cut stems close to base
  4. Cut off top quarters and tips of the petals
  5. To get the best color: Place in water with a tablespoon of vinegar and lemon juice (per quart of water)

How To Eat:
  1. Pull each leaf off the choke
  2. Hold pointed end between fingers and drag between the teeth (the most edible portion is on the inside of the leaf and the bottom 1/3 of the choke)

Storage: Refrigerate unwashed in a plastic bag. Use within 4 days of purchase.

The following are Chef Flay’s recipes:

Grilled Artichokes Stuffed with Mediterranean Tuna Salad
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

4 large artichokes
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation:

  1. Trim the sharp ends of each artichoke with scissors, and place in a large pot. Combine the artichokes with the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and fill pot with enough water to cover the artichokes. Boil for 40 minutes or until tender. Remove artichokes from pot and let cool.
  2. Preheat grill. When artichokes have cooled, slice in half lengthwise and remove the choke. Brush each half with the remaining oil and grill (cut side down) for 1-2 minutes. Turn over and grill an additional 1 minute. Remove from grill and fill each half with some of the salad.

Tuna Salad:

1 can imported Italian tuna fish in olive oil
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 large stalk celery, diced
1/4 cup Nicoise olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 tablespoons capers, drained
1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to taste.

Preparation:

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Grilled Artichokes with Basil-Mint Pesto
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

4 large artichokes
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation:

  1. Trim the sharp ends of each artichoke with scissors, and place in a large pot. Combine the artichokes with the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and fill pot with enough water to cover the artichokes. Boil for 40 minutes or until tender. Remove artichokes from pot and let cool.
  2. Preheat grill. When artichokes have cooled, slice in half lengthwide and remove the choke. Brush each half with the remaining oil and grill cut-side down for 1-2 minutes. Turn over and grill an additional 1 minute. Drizzle each half with some of the Mint Pesto

Basil Mint Pesto:

1/4 cup unsalted almonds, toasted
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1 1/4 cups fresh mint leaves
2 medium cloves garlic
Kosher salt
Freshly ground coarse black pepper, optional

Preparation:

Put the almonds, cheese, and the olive oil in a food processor and pulse until pureed. Add the basil, mint, and garlic and process to a smooth texture.

Grilled Artichokes with Anchoiade Sauce
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

4 large artichokes
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation:

  1. Trim the sharp ends of each artichoke with scissors, and place in a large pot. Combine the artichokes with the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and fill pot with enough water to cover the artichokes. Boil for 40 minutes or until tender. Remove artichokes from pot and let cool.
  2. Preheat grill. When artichokes have cooled, slice in half lengthwise and remove the choke. Brush each half with the remaining oil and grill cut-side down for 1-2 minutes. Turn over and grill an additional 1 minute. Remove from grill and drizzle each half with some of the Anchoiade Sauce.

Anchoiade Sauce:

1 cup best quality mayonnaise
6 anchovies, packed in oil, patted dry
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation:

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.