Mom and I discussed a bunch of favorite foods to try to figure out what to cook for my second-to-last night home, and we realized that we could just make a bunch of appetizer type things and skip the main course altogether. Delightful!
First, a glamour shot of the Sungold cherry tomatoes I keep talking about, and which we ate by the bucket full all week:
Now. The menu for the evening:
-White beans with sausage, red onion and tomato
-Mirza (Persian eggplant dip and one of my all-time favorite foods)
-Grilled baby artichokes
-Prosciutto-wrapped grilled figs
OK, now I’m starving thinking about it.
I’ll follow up with a mirza post since it needs its own entry. It is simple but divine. And my mom made the white beans while I wasn’t paying attention, so I’d just be guessing if I made up instructions for that (though it was very tasty). But the grilled artichokes I carefully paid attention to, and the grilled figs are so beyond simple and SO delicious….
Artichokes. My mom buys bags of baby artichokes from Trader Joe’s because her friendly Farmer’s Market artichoke man has stopped showing up. I think we started with four pounds. That sounds insane, but we wanted leftovers and as you’ll see you throw away (compost, in our case) a LOT of trimmings.
Sadly I forgot to take photos until I was trimming the last few, so I don’t have a whole one to show here. But pretend you have seen the whole baby artichoke.
Trim it down to the tender leaves, cut the top third off, leaving the bases of the leaves, then use a paring knife to clean the bottom and stem, then cut each one in half (place in a bowl of cold water with the juice of a lemon while you keep trimming the rest:
This takes quite a while. Once you’ve done all trillion of them, admire the giant tub of leaves and trimming that your compost heap is about to enjoy, and marvel at the tiny bowl of water and artichokes that you are left with:
Despite the lemon juice in the water, the artichokes may have discolored a little along the cut edges (you’re helping slow that down by putting them in water)–do not panic. Put them in a big pan with a couple whole cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed, cover them with water (or close to cover), and bring to a simmer. Cook until they are tender but not too soft:
It’s like magic! The discoloration is gone! Eat one out of the strainer to celebrate. Now coat them in olive oil:
Grill in a grill pan to prevent losing them into the fire. They’re already cooked, so you’re just adding that nice charred look and flavor. Salt and pepper. I like to hit them with a squeeze of lemon juice when they’re done. Now you can start sneaking them out of the bowl while you continue getting dinner on. (Leftovers should be added to pizza, or pasta, or sandwiches, or eaten cold out of the fridge.)
Ok, the other fun grilled thing that night–I posted one photo already, but this is an appetizer my mom has been making for years, and it could not be easier.
[If you're using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for a couple hours before assembly!]
A note on figs: They have to be ripe ripe ripe for this to be as amazing as it can be. We had lovely ripe figs, and actually some were just ripe while others were *really* ripe:
I have to say, though, I could barely tell them apart when they were cooked. That slightly sketchy-looking one might have been a tad more tender; it was certainly way juicier raw!
Cut slices of prosciutto in half the long way, so you have two strips from each slice. Wind one strip around each halved fig, and string a couple on each skewer. Brush with olive oil and grill.
Devour while moaning incoherently.