Usher in outdoor cooking season with the latest cookbook from Ben Tish, one of London’s preeminent grilling experts. Peruse this collection of recipes, which spans from classic grilled meats to more elegant vegetarian preparations, like these grilled artichokes with pine nut purée.
Violet baby artichokes are a joy to cook in the spring, and they make the perfect seasonal tapa. After we’ve removed the woody stalk and leaves, we cook them in water, wine and vinegar with plenty of fresh herbs until soft and tender, then grill them over hot coals. The pine nut purée is a great thing to have in your armory — it works wonders with grilled lamb or chicken, and is also delicious eaten as a rich, hummus-like dip. Some beautiful flatbreads would go brilliantly with this.
- 4 small artichokes or 8 baby violet artichokes
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 1/4 cups white wine
- 1 1/4 cups white wine vinegar, plus a splash extra
- 5 black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 3/4 cup full-cream (whole) milk
- 4 free-range eggs, each cracked into a cup
- olive oil, for cooking
- sea salt and black pepper
For the artichokes
Trim the ends of the stalks from the artichokes, then keep trimming away the woody, dark-green leaves until you reach the pale-green hearts. With a sharp peeler, peel from the base of the heart to the ends of the stalks, to reveal the tender, pale-green flesh. Use a teaspoon to scrape out the hairy choke, if there is any. Immediately rub the artichokes all over with lemon juice to stop them discoloring, then place in a non-reactive saucepan.
When all the artichokes are prepared, add the wine, vinegar, peppercorns, bay leaf, thyme and a sprinkle of salt to the pan, then pour in enough cold water to cover. Place on the stovetop and bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for 12–14 minutes, or until the artichokes are tender (a small knife inserted into the fattest part of the artichoke shouldn’t meet any resistance). Drain the artichokes, then leave to cool and dry on paper towel before cutting in half lengthwise.
Light and set a barbecue for indirect/direct cooking.
Place a small frying pan in the indirect heat zone and slowly toast the pine nuts, controlling the heat by moving the pan between heat zones until they have released their natural oils and turned golden brown. Pour in the milk and bring to the boil, then simmer for 3 minutes until the milk has reduced slightly. Pour the pine nuts and milk into a blender, season and process to a smooth purée.
Back on the stovetop, bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add a splash of vinegar. Turn down to a simmer, then carefully slide in the eggs and poach for 3-4 minutes for soft yolks, or 6-7 for more set yolks. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain well.
While the eggs are poaching, lightly drizzle the artichokes with olive oil and season them. Lay them on the grill in the direct heat zone and cook for 2–3 minutes on each side until lightly charred.
Serve the grilled artichokes alongside the pine nut purée and finish with the poached eggs.