Grilled Artichokes with Garlic Aioli

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Both my boys play Little League baseball. This means a couple things: I know every flavor of sunflower seed and Big League Chew bubble gum on the market and we spend an astronomical amount of time at the ball field. Which is ok with me because even though our schedule is downright crazy, it’s a heck of a lot of fun watching your kids do something they love.

Last weekend dear friends joined us to watch a game. The evening couldn’t have been more picturesque; the sun setting behind the ball field, happy kids running around. Our friends came to the house after the game and the kids played outside until it was pitch black, getting every bike, ball, skateboard and toy we have out. We ate pizza in the driveway and hung out on the patio, talking and laughing until the kids finally trickled inside.

These are the quintessential Yakima Valley summer nights I look forward to all year long, soaking up the views of orchards and mountains in the distance, the grass bright green under my toes, brilliant blue sky overhead.

Artichokes take a quick bath in boiling water before hitting the hot grill for perfectly tender leaves with smoky crisp edges. A garlic aioli is the perfect dip to compliment the artichoke. I love this appetizer because it draws everyone to the table. No one can resist the artichoke and it feels like a personal win to get to the heart (the tender delicious interior of the vegetable). I also appreciate that eating artichokes doesn’t exactly fill you up, so even when you’ve plowed through a few waiting for dinner. To me, that’s the perfect appetizer, it brings people to the table ready to eat.

Grilled Artichokes with Garlic Aioli

·         4 artichokes

·         1 lemon

·         2 bay leaves

·         2 tablespoons melted butter

·         Salt

Garlic Aioli

·         1 cup mayonnaise (good mayonnaise as Ina Garten, the famous chef, would say)

·         Juice of one lemon

·         2 cloves garlic minced

·         2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley minced

·         Kosher salt and black pepper

Chop garlic and parsley very finely. Mix into mayonnaise with salt and pepper. Juice the lemon directly into the mixture to thin. Add more or less of any of the ingredients to get to desired texture and flavor.

In the largest pot you have, fill 2/3 with water and bring to a boil. Squeeze the juice of one lemon into the water, then add the lemon to the pot. Add a generous handful of salt. While you wait for the water to boil, wash the trim the woody ends off the artichokes. When the water boils, drop in the artichokes, making sure they are submerged in water. Turn the heat down to medium so they are at a slow boil. Let the artichokes simmer in the water for about 15 minutes until they are bright green and soft.

Remove from the water and drain in a strainer for a few minutes. Cut in half and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with a bit more salt. Heat the barbecue to medium heat. Place the artichokes half side down and cook for about 5 minutes or until the artichoke has grill marks. Turn and cook for another 3-5 minutes on the opposite side.

*you aren’t trying to cook the artichokes on the grill. You just want a little smoky flavor and crispness.

When the artichokes are charred on all sides, remove from heat. Serve with garlic aioli or melted butter.

Serves 6-8 people.