Artichokes are a funny vegetable. It was never something I ate growing up, but in the past few years, I can't seem to get enough. In the winter, we've been eating them steamed and stuffed with breadcrumbs, and dipped in a hacked-together beurre blanc. Lately though, in an effort to avoid excess butter, a better substitute was needed. I'd been meaning to try making my own Romesco sauce lately, especially given my recent love for grilled spring leeks, and this meal was born. It's easy enough to whip together on a weeknight, or make ahead of time to keep in the fridge. Either way, it's a great flavorful condiment to keep in your arsenal.
I used baby artichokes here because they are lower maintenance - no removing of the hairy choke and quicker to cook, but you could easily use adult artichokes. Trim off the spiny tips and tough part of the stem. Halve for easier grilling. Be sure to rub the cut ends with a cut lemon to prevent the artichokes from oxidizing and turning brown.
For the leeks, choose ones that are thin and have a long white area. Those are the young ones. Cut off the roots and tough green stalks. Rinse them well to get rid of any dirt trapped in the stalk.
The preparation for both of these vegetables are similar. Steam them in a large pot for about 10 minutes. When they are tender (but not falling apart), fish them out and pat them dry with a paper towel. Toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and grill on high heat until blistered and charred.
For the Romesco, you'll need:
- 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/4 cup whole blanched almonds, hazelnuts, or pinenuts
- 1 (7.25-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained (about 1 cup)
- 1 medium sized roasted tomato OR 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Best if eaten with your hands, hot off the grill.