I am going totally overboard today and bringing you the template for a trio of perfect party bites that you can prep in ONE hour. I know it seems totally impossible but believe me! I actually DID IT. You’ll be serving fire-roasted artichokes with a lemon aioli, crispy-creamy smashed potatoes with a smoky paprika aioli, and a garlicky make-your-own BLT bruschetta to your impressed guests, using two secret weapons: your grill and an easy multi-purpose cheater aioli.

The lemony aioli is the perfect accompaniment to smoke-kissed artichoke leaves. I like to squeeze them with more lemon as I eat them. Smoky paprika aioli is a traditional Spanish accompaniment to roasted potatoes, and these grilled potatoes are crispy on the outside and tenderly creamy on the inside. Lastly, your guests get to prepare the bruschetta themselves, smearing toasted baguettes with garlicky aioli before adding crisp iceberg lettuce, juicy cherry tomatoes, and grilled bacon. Summery party perfection, in one short hour.

You can do this!

This recipe serves 4 for dinner or 6 as small bites.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 artichokes
  • 3-4 lemons
  • 1# baby potatoes
  • 1 baguette, sliced into rounds (most delis will slice the bread for you!)
  • 1 lb. bacon
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • 1 T + 1 t Dijon mustard, divided
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Three small bowls
  • A sheet pan or large platter

Since your timeline is the most important thing, I’ve numbered the steps for you to make sure you’re doing everything on time!

  1. Turn on the grill to medium-high.
  2. Start the potatoes: Rinse the baby potatoes and add them to a pot. Add water just to cover them and set the pot over high heat on your stove. Set a timer for 20 minutes.
  3. Start your artichoke pot: zest one of the lemons, and set the zest aside. Roll the now-white lemon on the counter a few times, cut it in half, and squeeze the two halves into a large pot. Add the squeezed halves to the pot and fill it about halfway with water. Set it on the stove over medium-high heat.
  4. Trim and cook your artichokes: Trim the stalks off (or trim just the cut end and peel the stalk). Pull off any tiny or loose exterior leaves. Using a sharp chef’s knife or a serrated knife, chop the very top of the artichoke off, about one inch, then cut the artichokes in half, then in half again. (You’ll note I just cut them in half once, not into quarters. THIS WAS A MISTAKE. Once the artichokes cook, they get WAY harder to cut. Don’t make my mistake! Cut your artichokes in quarters.)

Then, slice along the bottom of the hairy choke, pulling it and some of the sharp inside leaves out. Add your artichokes to the pot of lemon water as you go. By the time you’re done, the water should be close to boiling. Don’t worry if your artichokes are poking out of the water. Add a tablespoon of kosher salt and cover the pot.  Once the water is boiling, set a timer for 15 minutes.

  1. Make your aioli: Push the garlic through a garlic press and add it to a medium-sized mixing bowl with the kosher salt. Mash them together into a paste.

Next, add one Tablespoon of Dijon mustard, the mayo, and the oil, and whisk to combine. Divide the aioli between three small bowls into three equal portions. You’ll leave one untouched; that is for the BLTs. To the second bowl, add the paprika. (I added mustard in the photo, but it muddied the flavor, so skip it!) To the third bowl, add the lemon zest and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Roll another lemon on the counter, cut it in half, and juice one half into the bowl with the zest. (You can add the squeezed lemon to your artichoke pot and re-cover it.)

Whisk the lemon aioli, then the paprika aioli, then put all three of the aiolis into the fridge.

  1. Your potato timer should have beeped by this point. When it does, test a potato by poking it with a fork. The fork should slide in easily. If it doesn’t, let them go a couple minutes more. Drain the potatoes, then put them on a sheet pan to cool.
  2. Grill your bacon: scrape and oil your grill, then add the bacon to your grill. (Make sure you do it horizontally, so it doesn’t just go straight through the grill grate.) DON’T close the grill, and DON’T leave the bacon. It will quickly start to render and curl, and the flames may flare as it does. Use common sense and be careful.

Once the bacon starts to shrivel on the edges, flip the strips and let them cook about one minute more, or until the bacon is done to your liking. Immediately remove it to a paper towel-lined plate. Close the grill, but keep it fired up.

  1. Smash your potatoes: grab a potato, put it in your palm, and gently smoosh it. You want the potato just to break its skin and flatten slightly.

(This has to be done in your hands! If you do it on a counter or against something hard, the potatoes will smoosh into pieces, and you won’t be able to grill them. If they’re too hot, use a clean dishtowel to shield your hands.) Add the smooshed potatoes to a bowl and toss with a bit of olive oil.

  1. Your artichokes should also be done at this point. When the timer beeps, check them by pulling on an exterior leaf. It should pull off pretty easily. Drain and set them aside.
  2. Get everything ready for grilling: To a platter or sheet pan, add the potatoes (just dump the bowl onto the pan), the artichoke quarters, and the sliced bread. Drizzle the artichokes with oil. Sprinkle the potatoes with kosher salt.
  3. Add the potatoes to the grill. You’ll end up grilling them about 7 minutes per side, but you don’t have time to sit there and wait! Go to the next step while they grill.
  4. Prep the BLT ingredients: slice the cherry tomatoes in half (or leave tiny ones intact) and thinly slice the iceberg lettuce. Cut or break the bacon pieces into thirds. Put the veggies in the fridge and get back to the grill.

  1. Grill everything else: First, check your potatoes. They should be slightly golden brown on the first side. Flip them, then add the artichokes (which will grill maybe 4-5 minutes per side). Lastly, add the bread slices.

The bread slices only need a couple minutes per side, so watch them closely. When they start to get golden, flip them. When the second side starts to toast, remove the bread to your platter or tray. Rotate the artichokes and check the potatoes. When the potatoes start to get golden on the second side, remove them to your tray. When you’re done removing the potatoes, the artichokes should be done. Add them to your tray.

  1. Finish your tray: Slice the last remaining lemon (and a half) and scatter the lemon halves on the artichokes. Add the lettuce, tomatoes, and bacon to the tray. Add the three bowls of aioli to your tray and SERVE!

The best part about this is that once you’re done, literally everything is ready all at once on one tray. Take it out to your patio, grab a glass of wine, and enjoy!

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