Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Flowers on Fire!

Carciofini alla Griglia con una Salsa di Menta e Pomodori Secche
Grilled Artichokes with Mint & Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

I adopted these pretty babies on Saturday- I couldn't stand to see them sitting there in a basket at the market hall on Saturday, lonely and alone. Well actually, there were a few dozen of them, but that is beside the point! They were so lovely and tender, I had to take them home with me... I am pretty sure you would have done the same too if you had been there!

These took me 20 minutes to cook in all- 10 minutes steaming and 10 minutes of scorching on the griddle. Paired with a refreshing yogurt dip, they went to make a wonderful and healthy Summer supper. Here, let me share with you how I prepared them- it was so easy!

I started off by peeling the stalks back with a pairing knife to reveal the tender, insides and then rubbing them over with a slice of lemon to keep them from going brown. I carried on by cutting off the ends, slicing the artichokes in half, trimming the tips off the remaining leaves and removing the "choke"- and again, covering all cut surfaces with lemon juice. I am sure you are all familiar with these basics when it comes to preparing artichokes... so let's cut to the chase and move on to the fun stuff!

I spread out the leaves a little and sprinkled the artichokes with salt, pepper and a little crushed garlic and pushed a couple of leaves of mint in-between too, before setting them into my steamer and cooking them for 10 minutes. These small artichokes really don't take much longer than that! And that gave me plenty of time to prepare my dip- which was also really easy! It went a little like this...

I finely chopped a Spring onion, a handful of mint, a little parsley, a few chives and a couple of sun-dried tomatoes and added them to 5-6 tablespoons of plain yogurt. I added a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of honey and the zest of half a lemon and stirred everything together well. I seasoned with salt and pepper, added a squeeze of lemon juice... and that was that! I told you it was easy!

After 10 minutes, I turned on the heat and got my griddle pan ready, drained the artichokes and drizzled them with a little olive oil. Onto the pan they went- first on their backs with the cut surface facing upwards, until I could hear them sizzling away. At that point, I KNEW the pan was really hot and that was when I flipped them over and the real sizzling began to happen! I pressed them down whilst the seared and made sure not to move them for a good 2-3 minutes.  After that time, I added a good squeeze of lemon juice and a little drizzle of honey- just a tiny bit. This bubbled and sizzled away and gave the artichokes a lovely caramelized finish... delicious! Only then did I flip them over... and as soon as I was happy with the color, I served them up immediately!

With a final sprinkle of salt and a scattering of finely chopped mint, they were ready to be dipped and enjoyed... and if you try them, you will too! I promise that you are going to love them every bit as much as I did! And that's a whole lot of love, believe me!


  1. Tasty, tasty and just delicious! Bravo Francesco.

  2. Thanks Ilse! All you need to do is take something wonderful... and make it a LITTLE BIT better ;-) Glad you like it! Francesco