Lemon Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
12 baby artichokes*
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
* What are baby artichokes? Baby artichokes are not a separate variety but merely smaller versions of larger artichokes. Their size comes from their location on the artichoke plant. They are miniature artichokes, about 2 to 3 inches long, and come maybe 15 to 20 to a container. They are picked from the lower parts of the artichoke plant where the plant fronds protect them from sun, in effect stunting their growth.
Prepare the Lemon Vinaigrette; set aside until ready to use.
How To Purchase and Prepare Baby Artichokes:
Baby artichokes are sold in plastic bags or loose. Their size can vary from walnut to jumbo egg size. Size is no indication of age. (Some babies are bigger than other babies!) Choose baby artichokes that are firm and heavy for their size. Most have no fuzzy choke.
Start by rinsing and brushing off the Baby Artichokes under cold water. This will remove the natural thin film an Artichoke produces while growing that can give the choke a bitter taste.
Bend back lower, outer petals of artichokes until they snap off easily near base. Continue doing this until you reach a point where the leaves are half green (at the top) and half yellow (at the bottom). Using a sharp stainless steel knife, cut off top third of artichokes or just below the green tips of the petals. Pare all remaining dark green areas from bases. Cut off stems.
Halve or quarter as desired. If center petals are purple or pink remove center petals and fuzzy centers. Dip or rub all surfaces with lemon juice.
In a large saucepan, bring 1 1/2 quarts of water to a boil. Add prepared baby artichokes and cook approximately 7 to 10 minutes or until you can easily pierce them with a fork, but they still offer some resistance. Drain and immediately and immerse in cold water to stop the cooking.
When cool, cut the baby artichoke in half lengthwise, sprinkle them with olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
Prepare Barbecue grill. Cover barbecue with lid, open any vents, and grill them over a medium-hot fire, cut side down for about 5 minutes, or until the cut sides are well browned.
Pour the Lemon Vinaigrette over grilled artichokes and toss. This can be served right away, but it is much better if allowed to sit for an hour for the flavors to mingle. They will keep, covered and refrigerated, for about 3 days. .
Makes 4 servings.
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped pitted black olives
Freshly-ground black pepper to taste
In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, olive oil, olives, and pepper; whisk together well.