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But I’d Never Thought to Grill Them

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By Dan Clarke

I have enjoyed artichokes all my life.

When I was a child my grandfather operated a real estate business in the sleepy little town of Half Moon Bay. There’d be an occasional transaction involving a small house or other residential lot, but most of the time he was dealing in agricultural land and that meant fields of artichokes and Brussel sprouts. His friends and clients were generous with their harvests. Nearly every visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Burlingame would result in boxes of these particularly California treats going into the trunk before the drive back to Sacramento.

My family wasn’t especially creative with artichokes. We boiled or steamed them. A pinch of salt went into the water and maybe a teaspoon of olive oil, otherwise there was nothing to add to—or detract from—the natural flavor of this coastal thistle, other than some melted butter and mayonnaise for dipping.. We ate well, usually basing our meals around high-quality ingredients, but tended toward minimalist preparations. Why stray from the essence of something good by complicating things, went the theory.

Virtually all the artichokes in the United States are grown along the California coast south of San Francisco.  The artichoke is the official vegetable of the state of California, so designated by Gavin Newsom in 2013, when he was a mere Lieutenant Governor (bet you didn’t know that!).

I still tend to cook artichokes in the same way my mother did, but I have sampled more creative preparations, sometimes in American restaurants and whenever I saw artichauts on a menu in France or carciofi in Italy. Two good sources for variations on the basic artichoke theme are the websites of the California Artichoke Advisory Board and Ocean Mist Farms.

A recipe we found at the former of these two sites looks like a simple preparation and should make for an excellent addition to spring and early summer barbecues. 


Grilled Artichokes

grilled artichoke.jpg copy Picmonkey

This recipe is perfect for the lazy cook, since all preparation can be done the previous day. The slightly smoky taste compliments the nuttiness of the artichoke and no dip is necessary, although some might want to use additional marinade for dipping.



  • 4 large artichokes
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 T minced ginger
  • ¼ cup olive oil



1.            Slice artichoke tops off, crosswise. Trim Stems.

2.            Boil or steam artichokes until bottoms pierce easily, or a petal pulls off easily.

3.            Drain artichokes. Cool.

4.            Cut each artichoke in half lengthwise and scrape out fuzzy center and any purple tipped petals.

5.            Mix remaining ingredients in a large plastic bag. Place artichokes in the bag and coat all sides of the artichokes. For best flavor marinate in the mixture overnight in the refrigerator but should marinate at least one hour.

6.            Drain artichokes.

7.            Place cut side down on a grill over a solid bed of medium coals or gas grill on medium. Grill until lightly browned on the cut side, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn artichokes over and drizzle some of the remaining marinade over the artichokes.

8.            Grill until petal tips are lightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes more.

9.            Serve hot or room temperature

Yield: 8 servings, ½ artichoke each.

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