- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 29, 2007

When you stuff a split artichoke with a chunk of fresh lemon and flash-saute the whole arrangement in hot olive oil, the result is simply stunning.

Not only is it beautiful, but it’s portable as well and tastes good cold or at room temperature.

All of these attributes add up to a perfect picnic item, so make extra. Then, in additional to having these as a side dish or appetizer for dinner, you can pack some (wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and placed in a single layer in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid) and take them with you to the park on Sunday afternoon.

Grilled lemon-spiked artichokes

2 large artichokes (see note)

Water

1 large lemon or 2 smaller ones (see note)

1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

With a sharp knife, slice off the top inch or so of each artichoke and trim the tough tip from the stem. Use scissors to snip off the sharp leaf tips.

Cook the artichokes in a vegetable steamer over simmering water until a knife can be inserted easily into the base of each artichoke. Remove them with tongs and place them upside down in a colander in the sink to drain.

When the artichokes are thoroughly drained, cut them in half lengthwise with a sharp knife, then use a small spoon to scrape out the fuzzy choke. (The artichokes can be prepared up to this point and stored, in an airtight container, at room temperature for several hours, or in the refrigerator for several days.)

Cut the lemons into quarters (or halves, if using smaller lemons). Tuck a piece of lemon into the cavity of each artichoke so that the flat, cut surface of the lemon is flush with the flat, cut surface of the artichoke, and the lemon’s peel is nestled against the inside of the artichoke.

Shortly before serving time, place a medium-size skillet over medium heat. After about a minute, add the olive oil, and swirl to coat the pan.

Place the artichokes cut- (and lemon-) side down in the hot oil, and let them cook undisturbed for about 2 minutes, or until the lemon is golden. Flip the artichokes and continue cooking another 2 minutes, lemon side up.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Makes 4 servings (half an artichoke each)

Note: The artichokes get cooked twice — steamed until tender and then sauteed quickly with the lemon. The first steaming can be done up to several days ahead of time. Store the cooked artichokes in a zip-style plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Note: Meyer lemons add a terrific, perfumed flavor — and are well worth the price — but you can use the standard grocery-store variety as well.

Mollie Katzen is the author of “Moosewood Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press). To contact her, visit her Web site www.molliekatzen.com.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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