Oregon trip: “Tapas” dinner on the patio

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
-Grilled bread

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.

5 thoughts on “Oregon trip: “Tapas” dinner on the patio”

  1. I didn’t explain myself well; what a surprise! You don’t have to trim the choke out of a baby artichoke. Peel the tough outer leaves, cut off the top third, halve and drop into acidulated water to prevent discoloring. And that’s the other thing I didn’t make clear. Before you start working with artichokes, prepare a bowl of water with lots of lemon juice. Depending on how many artichokes I have, I halve and juice one or two lemons into a bowl of water. After you trim each artichoke, drop them in the water to prevent browning. They are good, aren’t they? We used the leftovers (from your visit) on pizza with caramelized onions and goat cheese. the other pizza we made that night had Sun gold cherry tomatoes and crispy prosciutto; yum!

  2. AH, good clarification re. the lemon juice. I’ll edit the post! I did get that you don’t trim out the choke but I don’t think I was very clear so I’ll edit that, too.

    Thank you for being such a good teacher and inspiration! XOXO

  3. I love figs. Our neighbors, the Mulders, are away on an Elder Hostel tour and told us to help ourselves to their figs; say no more. I have several different ways to enjoy fresh figs.

  4. Julie- You know, sometimes I feel like things sound more complicated when I write them up than they are in real life! Plus the photos make it seem….I don’t know, like a production. The figs, in particular, are incredibly simple, no cooking really except that you put them on the grill. But no measuring and chopping and spicing! Last winter I went through a major Complicated Meals phase, and I bet I will again once the weather gets cold, but in the summer it’s easy to cook and eat well because there are so many wonderful vegetables and fruits to eat!

    Now get thee a wooden spoon! And Mom, if you see this, did I leave that new bamboo flat spoon-paddle at home?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *