side dish for 4

After trying this method of cooking artichoke, I don't think we will ever be able to steam one again!!! You will be surprised at how sweet, firm, fresh, and delicious artichoke can be! We adapted this from the fantastic cookbook, Patricia Wells at Home in Provence.

4 fresh artichokes (with some stem)
1/2 lemon for rubbing on cut surfaces of artichokes
3 Tbs. Olive oil
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice if grilling; 1 tsp. lemon juice if cooking in a pan
salt to taste & a little freshly ground pepper

note: this recipe may be halved as it is a lot of work otherwise. One artichoke per person is a good rule of thumb.

If using the grill, get it heating, planning on a low fire for the artichokes. Clean and trim artichokes, trimming 3/4" of the top and pulling off the tough outer leaves (you'll need to remove about 3 layers of leaves). Trim stem only slightly to remove the dried-out part. Then peel off the tough outer layer of the stem. Cut artichokes in half and carefully scoop out the choke. Check with your fingers to be sure there are no spiny tops to the leaves that are left (if needed, trim with scissors).

Then whisk together lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil, adding one tablespoon of the oil at a time. It should emulsify. If you want to add a clove of minced garlic, you can whisk that in too. (They are up a little sweeter without garlic and you could make this decision based on what you plan to have with the artichokes.)

Next, lay the artichoke halves cut side down and cut (starting at stem end) into thin slices, as pictured above. Each artichoke should end up in 8-10 slices. If your outermost slice looks thicker than the others, cut it in half length-wise so the leaves stay together. Give the olive oil mixture a quick whisk and then toss the artichoke slices in the liquid till they are evenly coated.

Place on grill or on pre-heated cast-iron (or other heavy) pan, browning each side for about 3 minutes. Take care not to burn them too much, though a tiny bit of blackening will actually add to the flavor. They will not be cooked to the softness of your average steamed artichoke - rather, the artichoke slices will still be a bit firm. This makes for a fresh, sweet, and delicious flavor that contrasts beautifully with the lemon. Serve right away, though they also taste great at room temperature.