Grilled artichoke stems with tarragon garlic butter, a edible extension of the heart

Spring Fling is here and were celebrating Spring’s bounty with Deb, Editor of Food Network, Margaret of Away to Garden, Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen and Nicole of Pinch My Salt.

This week’s theme is artichoke and to participate, just share your artichoke recipe link in our blog on the comments below, as well as the blogs of all our participating friends!

Yesterdays trip to our local farm stand was better than we ever expected. They always have the most beautiful field of artichokes growing and when the artichokes go to flower, a sea of purple buds decorate the normally stark field lying alongside the major freeway.

We were fortunate that they still had beautiful, tender artichokes for sale. At a whopping 75 cents a head, these farm fresh artichokes were the best deal in town. It’s times like these that we can afford to eat artichokes till we drop!

Earlier that morning, the farmers kept the long stems on the artichokes and they were gorgeous displays in the corner of the stand. It was hard to decide if the artichokes should be cooked or be left as a floral decoration. The farm-stand lady grabbed the artichokes we requested and told us to eat the stems because they’re edible extensions of the heart.

We were amazed and enlightened to hear such information! eat the artichoke stem? they’re tender extensions of the heart? that makes total sense! how do you prepare them? After showering her with a series of curious artichoke stem questions, she was equally enthusiastic to share how she prepares her stems.

With a quick little tutorial from the stand-lady, we so excited to be buying artichokes with the long stems and to cook with them! The stems on the artichokes were perfect tender specimens to be extensions of the heart.

Depending on how young the artichokes are, you may or not want to peel the artichoke stems. It isn’t always necessary, but with slightly older stems, peeling makes them a little better.

For grilling artichokes, unless they are super tender, we will boil them first and then grill them just to slightly char and add a nice smokey flavor. In between boiling and grilling, the ‘chokes and stems will get marinated, then that marinade is later used as part of the garlic butter. No waste, all delicious flavor!

More artichoke recipes from our Spring Fling friends:

Grilled Artichokes and Stems with Garlic Tarragon Butter

Yield: Serves 6.

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

The quality of the artichokes you are able to get will vary time it takes to cook them. Older artichokes are usually tougher and require longer cook times. Cook by feel and testing, rather than times. For this recipe, first you boil them to mostly cook the artichokes, then marinate them, then finish by grilling to give them an extra special "smokey" quality. When boiling, you'll want the artichokes nearly all the way cooked, as they won't cook much more on the grill.  The step is more for the smokey flavor. If you can find artichokes with the stems still attached, cook the stem up too. It is like a extension of the heart.


  • 6 medium Artichokes with Stems
  • 4 T Sea Salt (for boiling water)
  • 2 small Lemons
  • 3/4 c Olive Oil
  • 1/4 c preferred Vinegar (we'll mostly use Rice Wine Vinegar, but any vinegar will work)
  • 3 T crushed Garlic, divided
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) cold, unsalted Butter, cut into 1/2" chunks
  • 2 t Sea Salt, for sauce
  • 2 T fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 T minced Fresh Tarragon
  • fresh cracked Black Pepper, to taste


  1. Bring a large stock pot 3/4 filled with water to a boil. While the water heats, trim the artichokes. Cut off the stems, and cut them into manageable lengths (usually in half). Peel the outer layer of the stems and rub with half of a lemon. Trim the top third off of the artichokes, then trim the tips of the remaining leaves.
  2. Slice the remaining 1 1/4 lemons into large wedges and put in the boiling water. Add the 4 T of sea salt to the water, then add the artichokes and stems. Place a few layers of paper towels over the artichokes to weigh them down, sinking them deeper in the water. Boil for 20-30 minutes or until the heart is tender when pierced and an outer leaf pulls off easily and the meat is tender.
  3. Drain and allow to cool upside down in a colander until easy to handle. Slice stems in half. Cut artichokes in half and remove choke with a small spoon.
  4. Combine olive oil, vinegar, and 1 T of garlic in a plastic bag large enough to marinate the artichokes and stems. Add artichokes and stems to the marinate, toss to coat, and allow to marinate 30 minutes to an hour.
  5. Heat a grill set up for direct heat. Remove artichokes and stems from marinade (reserving the marinade to make sauce) and grill artichokes and stems until lightly charred, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add remaining marinade to a sauce pan and heat over medium heat.  Add remaining 2 T of garlic and cook until garlic is soft (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat. Whisk in butter chunks until completely melted. Add sea salt, lemon juice, tarragon, and black pepper, whisking to combine. Serve immediately with grill artichokes and stems.
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Recipe Note for Salt: All recipes containing salt are based on kosher or sea salt amounts, not table salt. If using table salt, reduce the amount used to taste.

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Claire

    I absolutely adore grilled artichokes. HOLY YUM.

  2. Susan M.

    A little late as usual but I made these recipes for Easter dinner this year.

    The Panko Hearts were so good I made them again the next week.

  3. Christina M

    Your photos are gorgeous! We made white bean and artichoke crostini. They were delicious.

  4. Jessica

    Your artichokes look delicious! Great recipe. Here is a link to a post I did last week on steaming them – so simple and satisfying.

  5. Ivy Manning

    I love artichokes too, right down to the stalks! I did a whole article for the Oregonian FoodDay about artichokes with several recipes…whole braised, raw shaved bruschetta, creamy hearts in pasta, and crockpot artichokes too.

  6. Jane

    I read your “Spring Fling” Artichoke post right before heading off to Blogherfood ’11 in Atlanta. A little late, but I had to add my own favorite recipe adapted from Zuni Cafe for Artichokes Baked with Vidalia Onions, Lemon, Olives and Mint. I love artichokes and a girl can never have enough artichoke recipes at hand when artichoke season is in full swing. Thanks for the Artichoke Spring Fling!

  7. Karen @ Forty Cloves

    And another artichoke treat: Artichoke Hearts Oreganata

  8. Ellen

    Thank you so much for this post. I have a “hedge ” of artichokes growing in my front yard and after doing the usual steamed artichoke for the first few I harvested, I realized I should trim more of the stalk. Now I know exactly what to do, and how to do it. Brilliant!
    BTW, Your photographs are flat out lovely.

  9. Julie

    Gorgeous! I have artichokes in my kitchen now – destined for a tagine – this must go next on my to-do list!

  10. Dina

    i love artichokes, but never grilled them. thanks for the idea. i also never heard of eating the stems. i’d like to try it. thanks for sharing!

  11. sophistimom

    Ooh, cool. I just saw that I could post an artichoke recipe. These are the two I did this week:

    Steamed Artichokes with Lemon Chia Seed Aioli:

    how to steam artichokes:

  12. sophistimom

    So perfectly lovely. Those long stems are breathtaking.

  13. kelly@SnailsView

    What a wonderful post, as usual! Beautiful pics and amazing Artichokes! I can’t wait to try this recipe.
    I just posted a recipe for Baby Artichokes Stuffed with Bread Crumbs, Anchovy, Lemon and Garlic Chives –

  14. Maria @ Scandifoodie

    They are just so gorgeous! I can’t wait to have artichokes back in season. What a great idea to use the stems too!

  15. Chris & Skip in Avl

    One of our farmer friends is growing a big crop of artichokes after trying them out last year. That was a tiny harvest and shared most of it with me and Skip. This was the first time a stalk came still attached and I decided it’s actually the BEST part, IMHO. It’s all edible—none of those tough parts I hate to toss because it feels wasteful, and stalks have all the flavor of the prized cap—maybe more. What I didn’t know until seeing these (gorgeous as always) photos is the stalks can actually be longer than what Greg gave us. This year I’m asking for total stalkage! Give it up, baby! I want it ALL!

  16. Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather

    That’s a steal for artichokes! They sound delicious as ever.

  17. Rita Held

    As a super practical cook, I enjoy the sweet flesh of artichokes the simplest way I can — steamed, with a yummy, easy dip:
    Artichokes are plentiful here in coastal northern California. With our cool spring this year, they are still available at local farmers markets and grocery stores. Not all that common for late May.

  18. Melanie from Brave the Kitchen

    I so wish I were in California right now for the artichokes alone. Great images, as always!

  19. Karen @ Forty Cloves

    Here’s another artichoke treat: Sicilian Stuffed Artichokes (my grandmother’s recipe)

  20. Donna A.

    As a tender extension of my heart, I thank you and the stand-lady for this wholesome farm to table advice. Can’t wait to try!

  21. Kirsten Wanket

    Your pictures are unbelievable! I LOVE your Spring Fling idea! I’m going to the farmers market Sat and trying out a few of your recipes. Thanks for sharing!

    Would love to share some artichoke recipes with your wonderful readers….Check out:

    Hope your readers enjoy! I’m definitely returning for Strawberries….can’t wait.

    Thanks, guys!

  22. Jojo

    I’ve never cooked artichokes before. I’ve only ever had them canned. Maybe this is the time to finally buy a whole one and try cooking it.

  23. Susie @ Return to Sunday Supper

    At our house we always have a “spring fling” with artichokes. Sadly they are not as beautiful as they are straight from the farms in California, but we love them all the same!

    Here is an easy way to prepare/eat them.

  24. Pure2raw Twins

    Love artichokes! It has been awhile since I have gotten true fresh ones and played around with them, lately I have been a little lazy and usually get canned artichokes :( I will have to give the fresh ones a try again here soon! They look so good!

  25. Lauren at Keep It Sweet

    I was just talking about grilled artichokes and how good they would be… I love this. Those artichokes look so delicious!

  26. Sally cameron

    Hi Todd & Diane. We recently did a post on artichokes. They are gorgeous right now, so big and plump. Can’t resist the big piles of them in the stores. Here is my recipe for Artichokes with Lemon Garlic Dipping Sauce. Very simple and easy. As always, your photos are beautiful!

  27. Allison

    Looks delicious! I love me some asparagus.

  28. Kelly

    I made Roasted Asparagus with Goat Cheese, Toasted Walnuts and Balsamic Glaze for Easter dinner this year. Recipe is really easy and it’s delicious!

  29. Ranjani

    Your artichokes look delicious – great idea to make use of the stems. I recently tried fresh artichokes for the first time, with a sesame dipping sauce:

  30. Gaby

    I can’t believe I’ve never tried to make artichoke stems! So excited to try now :)

  31. Christine

    I have a few artichoke plants myself – this year I will try taking the stems! Can I make a request for a picture of the field of artichokes in bloom when the time comes? I always have to let a few go to seed as they are just so amazing – like prehistoric fireworks! So many colours in one plant!

  32. Daedre

    Interesting…I’ve never seen anybody cook the stems before!

  33. Fortycloves

    This year, I tried artichokes in a soup. It was velvety and delicate, and a departure from my usual ways of preparing them.
    Artichoke Soup:

  34. Sally

    Hi Todd and Diane! I have never seen artichokes with stems like that, how extraordinary. I love the seasons of New England, but we miss out on a lot of the wonderful produce of So Cal. And we live with long, dreary springs (like this week) with temps still under 50 degrees…

    I am always looking at your beautiful photos and still trying to improve and put into practice all your wonderful help from Mexico camp.

    Since you asked, here is a recipe for baby artichokes with fettucine and ricotta and a mini tutorial on how to prep them:

    Thanks for your continual inspiration and gorgeous photos.

  35. Laurie

    Your pictures are gorgeous. I grew up in an Italian family where artichokes are king!

  36. Victoria

    What a delicious post!

    There is a really good video of Melissa Clark cleaning artichokes on the NYTimes Dining section today.

    I’m always jealous of you California folk for your beautiful produce and luscious stone fruits. The only time I ever get a really delicious apricot is if I head out of Dodge.

  37. Boulder Locavore

    What a treat for you! Just reading your post brought back a flood of memories when visiting my Grandparents who lived between San Francisco and Monterey. Driving through the sprawling artichoke frields at this time of year was so intriguing. Such odd little visual things, artichokes. There is nothing like getting them fresh and local. Thank you for letting me ride along and enjoy your beautiful images as always!

  38. Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga)

    This meal looks wonderful and EVERY blog I have gone to, well tons, in the past 24 hrs have all made artichokes or baby chokes. It’s helping me get over my fear of ruining them, which is normal for me and artichokes. And eggplant. Those are two veggies that I just do not do well with….so thank you for the BEAUTIFUL inspiration (as usual).


  39. sally

    I love artichokes! Here is my recipe for Sautéed Baby Artichokes and Ricotta Polenta:

    1. Michelle

      This sounds superb!

  40. Aimee @ Simple Bites

    I’ve never grilled artichoke, but it makes perfect sense. Now I’m thinking about splitting a lobster in two and grilling it as well. Garlic butter for all!

    Here’s a recipe from last week:
    Mediterranean Quinoa-Stuffed Roasted Artichokes –

    Thanks for hosting Spring Fling!

  41. Tasha @ Voracious

    I so wish I could find artichokes here, but I haven’t had them in YEARS. Breaks my heart, because they are so incredibly tasty. I love the way this meal looks, it’s simple and rustic and flavor packed. Everything that I wish I was having today for dinner.

  42. Snippets of Thyme

    This “Chicken Fricasssee with Fennel and Artichoke” dish was one of our favorite dinners this spring. I would be so delighted to share it with anyone interested.

  43. Lisa@ The Cutting Edge of Ordinary

    I love Artichokes. I’ve been eating them sine I was just a wee one. My Nonna made a kick ass artichoke omelet that was outta this world. My Mom still makes it for us. Yum! Here’s my recipe for Roasted fingerling potatoes and baby artichokes.

  44. Alison

    I’m so jealous of your abundance of artichokes! Thanks for the tip about eating the stems. It makes sense since that’s the part of the cardoon (a close relative of the artichoke) that gets eaten. Never thought about grilling them. I still just steam them in my bamboo steamer and eat them a leaf at a time, dunked in drawn butter. Mmmmmmmmmm……

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