Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, September 11, 2015

Grilled artichokes, zucchini, and peaches

Kay's Cooking Corner

Kay Bona

This past weekend, my daughter, son-in-law, and three grandchildren came to visit us for a few days. In our new “down-sized home,” things were loud and rowdy, as you can expect. But it was fun, and everyone seemed to fit in quite comfortably! I guess when it comes to kids and grandkids, there aren’t many ways to be uncomfortable.

One evening, we grilled out. We had grilled artichokes, grilled zucchini, grilled peaches, and (of course) hamburgers and hot dogs. It was all so yummy! When the zucchini, artichokes, and peaches came off the grill, we ate those right then and there!

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried grilled artichokes, but they are wonderful. One of my nieces spends a lot of time in California with her mother and brother, even through her real home is in Mountain Home, Ark. While in California, which is the artichoke capital of the United States, she learned to grill artichokes. She passed her Californian skills down to us.

She says eating artichokes for dinner out there is as common as eating mashed potatoes with dinner in the South. I wouldn’t mind that habit at all!

I wrote about grilled zucchini in a previous article. The very first time I ever ate grilled zucchini was in Panama City, Fla. Don and I had taken the whole family there for a beach vacation, and we had told the kids they could each bring one of their close friends.

One of our sons, Bobby, brought his friend Jeff from Ruston, La. He grilled a wonderful Cajun vegetable dish of zucchini, yellow summer squash, and mushrooms sprinkled with Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning. I fell in love with grilled squashes!

Another time I couldn’t get my fill of grilled squash was in Salt Lake City, Utah. I had grilled zucchini and grilled sweet potatoes. They were so good! You just slice them long way in about half-inch slabs, season them with salt and pepper and a bit of oil or butter, and then stick them on the grill. You can sauté these on a griddle or in a large skillet, too. However you chose to prepare them, they’re FANTASTIC! I ate so many grilled sweet potatoes while we were there that my skin was turning a nice tan color!

Anyway, if you love artichokes, here’s a great way to prepare them on the grill. This is not my niece’s recipe, but it is close to it, and you’ll fall in love with these. These are great as a side dish, or as an appetizer, which is how we ate them. Hot off the grill. Just standing around and eating. In fact, I might have these for dinner tonight along with some grilled chicken. Yum!

Grilled Artichokes

4 large globe artichokes

1 lemon, halved

1/2 cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon of fresh Rosemary, Oregano, and Thyme, chopped

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Place chopped herbs and garlic in a small bowl, cover with olive oil. Microwave on high heat for 30 seconds, or heat oil and herbs on the stovetop until warm. Set aside and allow to cool.

Prepare a large pan with a steamer rack and a small amount of water. Prepare the artichokes for steaming.

Snip away the pointy ends of the artichokes. As you trim them, rub them with the lemon to prevent them from turning dark. You can either cut the stems down to the base of the artichoke, or if you want to leave it intact, peel the tough outer layer with a vegetable peeler. Trim the stems to within two to three inches from the base.

Cut off and discard the top half-inch of the artichoke, then cut the artichoke in half. Use a small spoon to scoop out the fuzzy part and the small inner leaves. Rub lemon juice all over the inside of the exposed choke. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the leafy side of the choke, raising the leaves slightly to get some in between them.

Heat the water in the pan until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and place the chokes in the steamer. Cover and steam about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, have the grill ready for hot heat. Remove the chokes from the steamer. Using a pastry brush, brush on the herb and garlic oil. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper if desired. Place the artichokes on the grill, with the cut sides down. Cover and grill about eight to 10 minutes.

To serve, sprinkle with a bit more lemon juice. Serve while warm – if you can make it to the table with them!

Artichokes take a long time to cook, and need moist heat, so it’s best to just grill them at the end to infuse the smoky flavor. To get them good and soft without getting soggy, cut them in half and steam them first. Check out the recipe above.

Kay Bona is a staff writer for the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at kay@dailydata.com.