Alcachofas al Ajillo – garlicky artichokes – are a traditional tapas dish from Spain. They are easy to make but bursting with flavor from the garlic and the chili pepper. Make sure to serve them with some crusty bread alongside. You won’t want to leave behind even drop of all the lovely garlic sauce.
The difference between appetizers and tapas, those small bites that accompany drinks both in Spain and Spanish restaurants abroad, is quantity. Our American appetizers are often served on large platters, two or three of each for each guest. They are passed around at parties or placed on a buffet table where folks can help themselves. Tapas are small plates that are served at your table with just one little serving per person.
This is going to be a funny analogy but I think tapas are kind of like dim sum. You order some. Then maybe you order some more. Or you try something different. They can just keep coming. Unlike dim sum, tapas are traditionally a prelude to dinner. They are meant to soak up the alcohol from your pre-dinner drink and whet your appetite for the meal to come.
Alcachofas al Ajillo can be made with fresh, frozen or canned artichoke hearts so it’s entirely possible that you already have the ingredients for this fast and tasty dish.
You are going to love this appetizer!
- 1 can or jar drained weight 5.8 oz or 165g small artichoke hearts
- 1/4 cup or 60ml virgin olive oil
- 1 rounded tablespoon butter
- 8 large cloves garlic
- 10 grape tomatoes
- 1 small red chili pepper
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Few sprigs fresh parsley
Drain the artichokes well, bud side down in a strainer or on some paper towels.
Chop the garlic finely and slice your tomatoes in half.
Split the chili pepper down the middle but leave it in one piece. You can remove the seeds if you don’t like dishes too spicy. I always leave mine in.
Chop the parsley roughly and set aside.
Heat the butter with half of the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over a medium high flame and add in the well-drained artichoke hearts.
Cook for about 6-7 minutes, until they are turning brown in places, stirring gently so they can color on both sides.
Add in the garlic, tomato halves, the red chili pepper and the rest of the olive oil.
Lower the flame to medium and cook for a few minutes, making sure to stir often to keep the garlic from burning.
When the garlic is starting to color slightly and the tomatoes have softened, turn the heat off. Sprinkle the top with salt and a few good grinds of black pepper and stir again.
Mix in the chopped parsley.
Serve with sliced crusty bread.
This dish is enough for four people as part of a greater tapas experience.