Waiting for artichokes
This time of the year is always very exciting. As it starts to get warmer, you see glimpses of the bounty to come when peas, asparagus and even the odd punnet of juicy, exorbitantly expensive strawberries start to appear in the shops. One of my favourite things to eat in the late Winter/early Spring season are spiny Italian artichokes, like the ones you see in the photo below. These artichokes are a little daunting because of those nasty spines, but if you can work up the courage to battle your way past them, the flesh inside of the artichokes is so tender that you can eat it raw. You heard me right: no cooking needed!
What kind of artichokes to use to make salad
These spiny artichokes are grown in Liguria, near the border with the Cote d’Azur in France, or on the island of Sardinia. The incredible thing is that we live a little less than an hour from the region in which the artichokes are grown, and we cannot buy them here! Yes, there are other types of artichokes, like the big green globe ones, and the non-spiny violet ones, but they’re just not the same as they need cooking and are not half as much fun to fight with. Once you’ve destroyed the spiny artichokes’s stabbing ability, you can really feel as though you’ve earned your meal! I have to content myself with waiting for my Italian mother-in-law to bring us some, or take matters into my own hands and drive over to Italy just to buy some (though that’s not such a terrible thing as I usually manage to squeeze a cappuccino and a gelato stop in while I’m there).
If you can’t find the right kind of artichokes, you can always make a celery and Parmesan salad instead, which is very similar.
Just a note: The amount of cheese I have given in the ingredients section is an approximation. I peel enough Parmesan off until the flakes pretty much cover the cut artichokes. You can add less, or more if you feel like it! We love Parmesan cheese in our house, so I usually keep peeling until I run out of cheese, or get fed up with the peeler.
Travel Photo Of The Week
This photo comes for the island of Sardinia, which is one of the places where these spiny artichokes are grown. This photo is taken on the North-Western coast near a resort area called San Teodoro. I think the picture says it all!
By Lisa Watson
Artichoke Salad with Parmesan Cheese Shavings
- 4 Small Italian spiny artichokes
- 30 g Parmesan Cheese 1 oz
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 lemon lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- First squeeze the lemon juice into the salad bowl. Rub your knife on the lemon half.
- Prepare the artichokes. Pull off the outer, tough leaves. Cut the top part off so you don’t get pricked by the spines. Cut the bottom off and use a sharp knife or a spoon to scoop out the fluffy choke in the middle of the artichoke. Cut the artichoke in half, the slice the leaves and the base in thin slices.
- Put the slices of artichoke immediately into the lemon juice and toss them. This prevents them from turning brown.
- Use a vegetable peeler to shave strips of parmesan cheese into the salad bowl. Break large pieces up with your hands.
- Add the olive oil and salt and toss the salad again. Add more lemon juice to taste if you would like a more acidic salad.
- Serve immediately.