Sunday, July 18, 2010

Grilled Baby Artichoke, Pearl Onion & Red Potato Kebabs

Serves 4

Grilled Vegetable Kebabs 

2 tsp thyme, finely chopped
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 Tbl plus 2 Tbl lemon juice, divided
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
about 8 baby artichokes
about 16 baby red potatoes
about 24 pearl onions
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
about 12 bamboo skewers, soaked for at least 30 minutes in cool water

Make the vinaigrette:
In a small mixing bowl, whisk to combine the thyme, lemon zest, 2 Tbl lemon juice a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Slowly add the olive oil, pouring in a thin stream and whisking as you pour.  Reserve.
Prepare the artichokes:
In a large bowl, combine 1 quart of cold water with the remaining 2 Tbl lemon juice, and set aside.  Working one artichoke at a time, bend back the tough, green outer leaves, snapping them off close to the base.  Continue removing several layers of leaves until the exposed leaves are pale yellow at the bottom, pale green at the top and tender.  Using kitchen shears or a very sharp knife, trim off the pointed tips of the leaves.  Cut a thin slice straight across the bottom of the stem to expose a fresh cross-section.  Trim the tough, dark green outer edges from the base and stem, exposing the tender, light green flesh beneath.  Slice the artichoke in half, length-wise.  Remove the fuzzy center, and any pointed tips of inner leaves. Place the prepared artichoke halves in the lemon water.

Whole Baby ArtichokeTough Outer Leaves Removed
                                                             whole baby artichoke                                                                        tough outer leaves removed
Top Sliced Off, Stem TrimmedTrimmed Artichoke, Sliced in Half
                                                                        top sliced off, stem trimmed                                           trimmed artichoke, sliced in half
Hairy Choke Removed
                                                                                     hairy choke removed

As you prepare the artichokes, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  When all the artichokes are trimmed, drain them from the lemon water and place them in the boiling water.  Simmer until tender, about 8 minutes.  Drain off the boiling water, then place the artichokes in a large bowl of ice water.  Allow them to rest in the ice water about 3 minutes, until cool.  Drain well, then pat dry with paper towels.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the prepared artichokes with about a third of the vinaigrette.  Season with salt and pepper and gently toss to coat.  Arrange four artichoke halves on each skewer, piercing the skewer twice through the leaves, near the choke.  Reserve, covered and refrigerated, until ready to grill.  

Prepare the Pearl Onions:
Bring a medium pot a water to a boil and add the pearl onions.  Simmer about two minutes, then drain.  Slice just the barest amount off the tough root end, then using a paring knife, peel off the skin. 

In a mixing bowl, combine the prepared pearl onions with about a third of the vinaigrette (about half of what’s remaining).  Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Arrange six pearl onions on each skewer, piercing through the center, from side to side (not top to bottom).  Reserve, covered and refrigerated until ready to grill.

Prepare the Potatoes:
Add potatoes to a large pot of boiling, salted water and simmer until they are just tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain well.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cooked potatoes with the remaining third of the vinaigrette.  Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Arrange four potatoes on each skewer, piercing them through the center.  Reserve, covered and refrigerated until ready to grill.

Grill the vegetables:
Heat the grill on high until very hot, about 30 minutes. Here’s a way to tell if your grill is at the right temperature.  Hold your hand right over it.  If you you can keep it there for five seconds, it’s not hot enough.  If you can’t hold it there for even half a second, it's too hot. 

When the grill is hot, soak a clean rag or a bunch of paper towels with a few tablespoons of vegetable oil, and using tongs, rub it over the grill rack.

Arrange the skewered artichokes, onions and potatoes directly over the heat.  Grill, turning occasionally, until grill marks appear on all sides, and the vegetables are heated through, about 3 minutes total for the artichokes and about 4-5 minutes total for the onions and potatoes. Transfer to a platter and serve hot.