One of the highlights of our return to Umbria every spring is to be able to pick fresh artichokes and fava beans from our vegetable garden. Unfortunately, after just a few weeks, the season for these two vegetables is over and I must wait another year to enjoy them. While they are available however, I enjoy them to the fullest, and am preparing dishes in my kitchen using artichokes almost on a daily basis. One of my very favorite ways to prepare very fresh young artichokes is to shave them raw and eat them in a salad. I must make this salad for lunch at least two or three times a week when fresh artichokes are available and just love the fresh flavor and different textures this salad offers. This salad epitomizes the fact that great Italian food need not be overly complicated, but instead by using a few fresh seasonal ingredients and treating them simply, you can create a very memorable dish. You can read more about the amazing artichoke in my post The Mysteries Of The Artichoke Unveiled.
Many folks are nervous about cleaning artichokes although really once you have tried it, you will see it isn’t at all difficult. You can check out my step by step tutorial on How To Clean An Artichoke for help to get you started. Artichokes do turn off color very quickly unless they are placed in a lemon water bath, so as you clean each artichoke, drop them immediately into the lemon infused water to keep their fresh color. I prefer my artichokes in this salad to be sliced quite thin so that they are crisp rather than chewy, so do use a very sharp when slicing them. After I slice each artichoke while preparing the salad I again place it in a bowl with pure lemon juice to keep its natural color.
In our area, this salad is usually made with peppery arugula which pairs well with the raw artichoke, but any fresh young greens will work if you cannot find top quality arugula. I sometimes make this salad with shaved Pecorino Romano which has a sharper flavor than Parmesan cheese does, but I do prefer the buttery mildness of Parmesan in this salad. You can simply dress this salad with an extra squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkling of sea salt and some freshly cracked black pepper, but I like to make a vinaigrette using a little Dijon mustard to add just a little extra zing to the salad. If you are not lucky enough to be able to locate fresh artichokes, I have had this salad made with canned ones (not marinated or frozen ones) although there is nothing better than fresh!
Deborah Mele 2014
Raw Artichoke, Arugula, & Shaved Parmesan Cheese Salad
- 8 Small Cleaned Artichokes (See Notes Above)
- 1 Lemon, Squeezed
- 8 Cups Fresh Arugula
- 4 Ounces Shaved Parmesan Cheese
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- 3/4 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- Additional Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
- Arrange the arugula on four salad plates.
- Use a sharp knife to thinly slice each artichokes and place them in a bowl with the lemon juice, tossing the slices in the lemon.
- Once all the artichokes have been sliced and tossed in the lemon juice, arrange the artichokes on top of the arugula.
- Divide the cheese shavings over the artichokes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until emulsified, then drizzle some over each salad plate.
- Serve immediately topped with some fresh cracked black pepper.