Years ago in Sedona, Arizona, a dish titled Fire-Smoked Lemon and Herb Marinated Artichoke caught my attention. I asked the server how it was prepared, and she said the artichokes were marinated for days in a lemon, garlic, olive oil, and fresh herb vinaigrette, then grilled over mesquite. She said they were to die for. They weren’t. In fact, I could barely discern the marinade at all.
So when I got back to my own kitchen, I tried it. My result was no better than what we had eaten in the restaurant. Not bad, mind you, but not packed with flavor. So over the next few years, I tried this and that, stuffing the artichokes, steaming them, braising them, and grilling them. But the results were just okay, no matter what.
Then one night recently, a moment before I was about to fall asleep, a thought floated across the pearly blue sky of my mind. That thought was “What if you marinate the artichokes AFTER partially cooking them?”
It made perfect sense. A marinade doesn’t permeate a raw artichoke. I knew this from repeated attempts. And sauces served alongside or even over an artichoke remain separate as well. What I wanted was the flavor of the marinade IN the flesh of the artichoke.
And that folks, thanks to a midnight revelation, is what I offer you here. This is the artichoke of my dreams, and now that I know the secret, local Northwest artichokes will be on our table even more often than usual this summer.
Before you jump into the recipe, however, be sure to check out the new Artichoke Primer page. It contains step-by-step directions (with photos) for trimming artichokes, plus everything you need to know about seasons, selection, storage, preparation, cooking, eating, and great flavor pairings.
Lemon & Thyme Marinated Artichokes with Spicy Sorrel Chive Pesto, Garlic Breadcrumbs & Toasted Hazelnuts
This is how artichokes should taste. The flavors sing and the textural play of the toasted breadcrumbs and hazelnuts with the silky-tender artichoke heart is pure heaven.
Note Spicy Sorrel Chive Pesto gilds the lily here (and I love it), but it’s not essential if you don’t have it on hand. Another pesto will work or use none at all. There is plenty of flavor here even without the pesto.
4 whole globe artichokes
½ cup fresh lemon juice
Lemon & Thyme Vinaigrette
zest of 2 large lemons
½ cup fresh lemon juice (mostly from above)
½ cup cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced or pressed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, or more to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups panko bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced or pressed
fine sea salt, to taste
Spicy Sorrel Chive Pesto, optional
¼ cup chopped parsley
½ cup toasted, skinned, coarsely chopped hazelnuts
- Trim the artichokes as described on the Artichoke Primer page. The result will be well-trimmed (lower leaves and top removed, stem trimmed and peeled, remaining leaves trimmed, and choke removed), quartered artichokes, coated with lemon juice.
- Fill the bottom of a large pot with steamer insert with water to just below the insert. Bring water to a boil.
- Add the trimmed artichokes to the pot, cover, and steam for 15 minutes.
- Drain the artichokes and remove to a large bowl.
- In a medium mixing bowl, quickly make the vinaigrette by whisking together the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, Dijon mustard, thyme, and salt to taste.
- Pour the vinaigrette over the still hot artichokes, toss gently, and let cool to room temperature. When cool, cover with plastic wrap, and frig until you want to serve.
- In the meanwhile, prepare the breadcrumbs. In a large saute pan, melt the butter. Add the breadcrumbs and garlic, and toss repeatedly to evenly and lightly brown the crumbs. Remove the crumbs to a small mixing bowl and salt to taste. When cool, cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature until needed, up to 2 days.
- Just before serving, preheat the oven to 400°.
- Using a small spoon, stuff a small amount of pesto between each of the leaves. (Or skip this step if you wish.)
- Butter an edged baking sheet and arrange the artichokes on the sheet. Drizzle a little of the marinade over the artichoke to help keep them moist while baking. Sprinkle heavily with breadcrumbs.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until artichokes are heated through and fully tender.
- Remove artichokes to serving plates. Garnish with chopped parsley and hazelnuts. Drizzle each plate with a little of the remaining marinade. Serve hot.
Serves 4-5 as an appetizer or side dish.
Copyright 2011 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.