Crispy Artichoke salad

This week brings artichokes to our Mediterranean and vegetable selections and seeing as there’s only one (they are just soooooo pricey) dishes like artichokes a la Grecque (a lovely stew with coriander seeds and lemon) are out. The way to make them go furthest is to toss them in breadcrumbs and fry til golden. After that, with a spritz of lemon juice you’ve got a brilliant dish to pick on before dinner. A word of warning though, don’t break out your fanciest wine as artichokes tend to do funny things to the taste.

I wanted a dish that would feed 2 people for lunch so I used my fried artichokes as a basis for a salad. I served them with some cherry vine tomatoes from Marc Michel, a handful of those wrinkly Greek black olives and some Parmesan shavings and a very light lemony dressing. The crunch of the artichokes makes the salad more filling and we only used bread at the end to mop up the juices. Yum.

Crispy artichoke salad with cherry tomatoes, Parmesan and Greek olives

You’ll need:

1 globe artichoke

Plain flour

1 large egg

A large handful of dry breadcrumbs (those Japanese Panko ones are brilliant for this)

Enough lettuce leaves for 2 washed and dried

6-7 cherry vine tomatoes quartered

1 handful Parmesan shavings

A slightly smaller handful of black olive, stoned and torn (or left whole if you’re not up to that kind of thing)

For the dressing:

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

Maldon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

First of all put the dressing together so it’s ready for later. Mix the lemon juice and oil, adding a pinch of crushed Maldon and a good dose of black pepper then set aside.

To prepare artichokes I tend to use a range of implements – a large knife with a serrated blade, a small sharp peeling knife and a spoon. If you haven’t done this before basically with artichokes you only eat the heart which is located at the bottom centre of the flower so for this kind of dish the rest needs to be pared away.

Start by slicing off the stem and about 1 cm off the tough bottom of the artichoke. This will make  the tough outer leaves easier to pull or cut off. Now cut off the top part of the artichokes (ie the tougher pointy part).

Preparing an artichoke 1

Pare back any other tough parts until you reach the heart.

Preparing an artichoke 2

Yes, it’s a lot of cutting back and what you’re left with seems paltry. I guess this explains why they never really caught on in a big way but all this work will be worth it – I promise!!

Preparing an artichoke 3

Using your fingers or a spoon scoop out and discard the fluffy stuff you find in the centre.

Preparing an artichoke 5

Slice the artichoke heart into pieces about 1/2 cm thick. Place the slices in a bowl of water then add the juice of half a lemon and a generous pinch of salt. This will stop the artichoke going brown. Leave the artichoke slices to sit for a few minutes while you toss the lettuce, tomatoes, olives, Parmesan and dressing together.

Preparing an artichoke 6

To finish off the salad, drain the artichokes and pat dry. Heat about an inch of vegetable oil in a pan and prepare the artichoke slices for frying by dipping them in flour then beaten egg  then breadcrumbs. Add the artichokes to the oil when it’s hot but not smoking otherwise they’ll burn on the outside before they’re done inside. When golden brown, remove from the pan to some kitchen paper sprinkle with salt and  black pepper. Sit on top of your salad with a couple of lemon wedges and serve immediately!!!!

Have a great week,



Hello everyone and a very happy 2009 to you,
If you’ve started a detox look away now. This week’s recipe is a gratin with the Mushrooms and Potatoes in your bag cooked with Gruyere cheese and Cream (just in case you didn’t do quite enough damage over the Christmas).To add extra depth to the Mushrooms I add some Porcini (dried Cepes) then use the liquid I hydrate them with in the gratin. If you can’t get your hands on Porcini (they’re generally to be found in good delis) don’t worry the dish works fine without them.
The detox starts next week(!!!)
Potato Gratin with Gruyere and Mushrooms
You’ll need:
10gr Porcini Mushrooms
175gr Mushrooms (about what you have in your bag this week)
Olive Oil
800gr Potatoes
120gr Gruyere (Parmesan also works well and Cheddar will do at a pinch)
200ml Single Cream

To begin with take the Porcini Mushrooms and leave them soaking in 120ml hot water then get on with preparing the rest of the ingredients. Wipe and slice the Mushrooms. Heat a dash of Olive Oil in a  pan and thrown on the Mushrooms and sauté until golden brown then set aside.
While the Mushrooms are cooking, peel and slice (about the thickness of a Euro coin or slightly less if possible) the Potatoes. Grate the Cheese and set aside. Strain and finely chop the Porcini then mix the soaking liquid with the Cream. Season this liquid with Salt and Pepper (you can add a little more Salt than normal as cream tends to sweeten things a lot especially when cooked down).

To put the dish together, in a square ovenproof dish about  24 cm x 24 cm place a layer of Potatoes. Scatter about a  third of your mushrooms and cheese on top and continue layering like this finishing with a layer of Potatoes. Pour the liquid over the Potatoes and Mushrooms and finally grate a little more cheese on top of everything. Cover with tin foil and bake for about 45 minutes at 180 degrees then uncover and bake for a further 15 or until golden brown.

Try this with a simple Lamb’s Lettuce and Walnut salad for the perfect lunch or add a dish of roasted root veg (the Carrots in this week’s bag would be perfect)to make a more substantial meal.
Our Mediteranean selections all have Artichokes this week and if you haven’t had them before you’re in for a treat. I tend to serve them as simply as possible to show off their great flavour. Last night I made Carciofi Fritti (Fried Artichokes) to pick on while we waited for dinner to cook and they went down a storm especially with 4 year old Dan who was appalled we were going to eat such a strange looking variety………. 
Carciofi Fritti 
First of all prepare the Artichokes by peeling off the tough outer leaves then cutting off the top half of each Artichoke (ie the tougher/pointy part). Finally, pare back the any more tough bits until you reach the heart. It’s a lot of cutting back I know and what you’re left with seems so paltry but it is worth it I promise! Discard the fluffy stuff you find there then slice the Artichoke heart into pieces about 1/2 cm thick. Place the slices in a bowl of water then add the juice of half a Lemon and a generous pinch of Salt. Leave the Artichokes to sit for about 15 minutes then drain and pat dry.
Heat about an inch of Oil in a pan and prepare the Artichoke slices for frying by dipping them in Flour then beaten Egg (you’ll need 1 large Egg) then breadcrumbs. Add the Artichokes to the oil when it’s hot but not smoking otherwise the Artichokes will burn on the outside before they’re done inside. When golden brown, remove from the pan to some Kitchen Paper then sprinkle with Salt, Black Pepper and a squeeze of Lemon Juice. Serve immediately!!!!
Hope you enjoy these recipes,
Have a great week,