Grilled artichokes with garlic, chilies, and pine nuts. These artichokes are perfect for a summer picnic or as a starter for a barbecue. In Catania where I had them, they were eaten on the street as a hearty snack. I was there in February and it was very cold. It probably seemed a lot colder because I didn’t have enough of the right clothes to wear as my luggage had been lost, but these sweet, smoky morsels somehow made all my troubles recede. There is no polite way to eat these—simply roll up your sleeves and dig in. When you get to the heart, you can pretty much eat it in one or two mouthfuls.
Recipe courtesy of "Street Food: Exploring the World's Most Authentic Tastes" by Tom Kime, copyright 2007. Used by permission of Dorling Kindersley Limited. All rights reserved.
|3/4 cup pine nuts||juice of 2 lemons|
|4 garlic cloves, halved and any green inner shoot removed||18 baby artichokes (in season in spring and early summer)|
|2 small dried red chilies||salt and freshly ground black pepper|
|1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped||lemon wedges for serving|
|3 tbsp good-quality extra virgin olive oil plus extra for serving|
Heat a charcoal grill until the coals are white-hot. Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat for 2–3 minutes until golden brown. Watch carefully as they burn very easily. Finely chop the garlic, and finely crush the dried chilies with a pinch of salt. Mix together the pine nuts, garlic, chilies, parsley, olive oil, and lemon juice. Season well with salt and pepper.
Take an artichoke and trim down the stem. Pull the leaves apart, without pulling them off. Work your way to the center of the artichoke. Using a teaspoon, remove the hairy choke by scraping in a circular motion. Take a tsp of pine nut mixture and push it down toward the base. Add another spoonful of filling and spread it among the central inner leaves. Repeat with the remaining artichokes. Season the inside of the artichokes with salt and pepper.
Carefully place the artichokes among the white-hot coals, keeping them upright. Grill for 8–10 minutes, turning occasionally and cooking in batches if necessary. To test whether they are cooked, hold an artichoke with a pair of tongs. Insert the tip of small sharp knife into the base just above the stem. It should be soft. If not, cook for a few more minutes. Remove from the heat. Cool slightly.
Have some extra virgin olive oil and the lemon wedges ready. Pull off and discard the blackened outside leaves. Pour a little extra virgin olive oil into the center and squeeze with lemon. Peel off and eat the inner leaves. The soft, pale center can be eaten in a couple of mouthfuls, stalks and all.
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