Are there meals or certain foods that you just adore but, for whatever reason, believe their preparation to be daunting so you never attempt them at home? I don't know what I thought was so difficult about preparing artichokes; but now that I've prepared grilled artichokes a couple of times I can honestly say that my artichoke anxiety was overblown.
Steamed artichokes with aioli were one of those ‘special occasion' appetizers that my mom served when was younger, but when I went out on my own I never picked up that mantle.
Fast forward several years and a visit to Big Sur, Monterey and Carmel, California reintroduced my family and me to the epicurean, albeit prehistoric looking, wonder that is the artichoke.
And then…and then…Kate and I ordered a grilled artichoke when we were on our little road trip this summer…and drop the artichoke mike. I was determined to master this primordial-like flower/food.
A little artichoke lore for you: while the majority of artichoke production occurs in the France, Spain and Italy along the Mediterranean; California is the primary producer of the vegetable for US consumption. And, the artichoke is a member of the daisy family and the edible portion that we love to eat is actually the immature flower bud of the plant! Hmmm…who knew!
And aren't they so pretty with that purple to white to green!
In choosing your artichokes, look for tight leaves and squeeze them lightly. Really fresh artichokes will actually give you a little ‘squeek' when the leaves are pressed against each other.
In addition to the butter dipping sauce, I also made aioli to dip the leaves and heart into. I used this recipe from Epicurious.
OK…so now that the artichoke ‘monkey' is off my back, I can promise you we'll be enjoying these much more often. I paired them with some delicious steaks and a lush green salad…oh, bliss.
What is the dish that daunts you? You might find that it's easier than you think.
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