Pronounced car-cho-fee, artichokes are one of my favorite vegetables. I may call them Carciofi the rest of my life because its a lot more fun to say than ‘artichokes’. During artichoke season in Sicily you will see big plumes of smoke wafting on the roadsides in Sicily. Local vendors set up a huge trays of coals with 50 or so artichokes cooking away. We roll down our windows and trap all the aromatic smoke we can!
Have you ever seen an artichoke plant? I never had until we moved here. Thats kind of sad isn’t it? Or maybe Im not alone on this. It’s kind of a crazy plant. Its pretty big relative to the resulting product. The plant typically grows 3-4′ tall and 4′ wide. It almost looks like a big fern, then a stalk rises from the middle and on top of that is the ‘bud’. The flower bud is what we eat! You need to harvest it before it starts to open because it turns into a giant purple flower. Surprisingly out of this big plant you can only get a few buds per season. In Sicily there are big fields of these plants and I always looked forward to seeing them every season.
I have another post about artichokes that goes into the different varietals and other info if you want to get your nerd on: link
- 10 Artichokes
- 1 cup olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- lemon + salt for finished artichoke heart
- 1 teaspoon minced mint
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
For this recipe you have to use charcoal. I use my Weber smokey Joe grill and start enough coals to cover the bottom rack. Wait for the coals to start getting white then spread them evenly on the rack.
Meanwhile in a small bowl mix the oil, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, mint (optional), and red chili flakes (optional). Cut the artichoke stems off if they have them so that the bottoms of the artichokes are flat. Next carefully (watch out for the thorns) open up the artichokes and spread the leaves out.
Take a large spoon and spoon the oil mixture into the middle of the artichokes. Once all of the artichokes have the mixture, place them directly onto the hot coals. Don’t be alarmed by the smoke! As the artichokes cook move them around to make sure they are all evenly cooked. Cook about a half hour or until they are brown and charred on the outside. Easy!!
To serve cut them into quarters, sprinkle with salt, and squeeze lemon juice on top. Also a good aioli wouldn’t be frowned upon. Eat their heart out!!! (Zing!! bet you didn’t see that one coming)