Our plates were overflowing with artichoke leaves. Some leaves were neatly stacked on one side while the others were left haphazardly all over the plates and spilling on the table. Every single leaf was pulled out from the globe with only the tender part of the leaf eaten. It seemed like a tedious job of taking apart the artichoke leaf after leaf before arriving to the core which is the biggest surprise you will have.
The leaves are surprisingly tasty, garlicky and smoky. I love the combination of flavors that they give. But when you arrive to the core of the artichoke, you will be in for a delectable treat. It's so tender and tasty. And that's the time when you grab for seconds. It's so good that you would immediately want to have them again. And I did venture on my own alright, grilling a new batch after a couple of days.
I posted some photos of our Labor Day barbecue with some Neapolitan friends in a past blog post and that was where I learned from Cira, a friend from Pompeii, how to roast artichokes like how they do in Naples. It takes a long time, about an hour or more of cooking on the fire (less if you put them straight on the hot coals) because you have to wait until the whole artichoke turns brown and the leaves detach easily. If you are preparing them, cook them much ahead of the rest of the food.
It's a simple recipe to remember, using basic ingredients of cooking. Parsley, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Now, isn't that so minimal? And the flavor they give is phenomenal!
One thing I like about this way of cooking artichokes is that I don't need to clean them like how I do with the Roman way or the other methods of preparing them. I just cut off the stalks and stuff the globes with the ingredients.
The next time you have the grill on, remember to try this recipe if artichokes are in season. You will love its simplicity and how they go well with the rest of the grilled food.
Carciofi Arrostiti (Roasted Artichokes)
For 8 artichokes
- 8 medium to big artichokes
- 4 cloves garlic, halved
- a big handful of fresh parsley
- extra virgin olive oil
- Rinse and dry artichokes. Cut off the stalks.
- Slightly push open the central part of the artichoke with a finger. Insert half a garlic, some parsley leaves, salt, pepper & extra virgin olive oil. The flavors of the whole artichoke will be coming from here so put enough salt & pepper.
- After doing the same thing to the other artichokes, put them in a container. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. You can prepare this ahead of time.
- While you can put the artichokes directly on the hot coals, I chose to put them in a disposable bowl made of aluminum foil. You will be needing two bowls, one as the container itself and the other as a cover.
- To prepare the bottom container, make as much holes as you can to let the heat and smoke go in and cook the artichokes.
- Transfer the artichokes in the container with the holes. Put the container on the grill, as close as possible to the coals. Cover with the other aluminum foil container.
- Cook until the artichokes turn brown until the top. Drizzle with oil while cooking. You will know when they're cooked when the leaves detach from the globe easily.
- Pull out and discard burned leaves at the bottom before serving.
NOTE: These artichokes are eaten using the fingers. Pull out each leaf from the globe then eat the tender ends only (the ones that were attached to the artichokes). When all the leaves are finished, you will arrive to the core which is the most tender part.