Insalata de carciofi is one of my favourite ways to serve artichokes – simply thinly sliced with a tangy lemon dressing and a little salty cheese. Celery heart adds crunch and a few baby rocket leaves give colour … but don’t use too much, let the artichoke be the star, and only use the palest inner stalks of celery and the smallest leaves you can find. Artichokes are notoriously tricky to match with wine, as they contain a compound called cynarin that makes most other things taste slightly sweet. It seems a very dry wine, one with even a slightly bitter citrus-peel edge, is the best match – di Lusso vermentino from Mudgee works a treat. Raw artichoke salad is also great as a side dish and can easily be doubled or tripled.
Serves 2 as an entrée
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon strained lemon juice
- Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 globe artichokes
- ½ lemon
- 2 stalks celery heart, finely sliced
- Small handful baby rocket leaves
- 50g Pecorino Romano, finely shaved
- Combine oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Working one artichoke at a time, cut off the stem and remove the outer leaves until you reach the paler green-yellow leaves.
- Use a small paring knife to trim the dark green from the artichoke base; rub the exposed area with the lemon.
- Cut off the top third or so of the artichoke, to get rid of any remaining dark green, and rub the cut surface with the lemon.
- Cut the artichoke in half and use a teaspoon to scoop out the hairy choke from the centre; rub the exposed area with lemon.
- Repeat with remaining artichoke.
- Finely slice the artichokes, cutting the sliced base into strips, and immediately toss through the lemon dressing.
- Toss through the celery heart, then the rocket, then most of the Pecorino.
- Arrange on a platter, draining off any excess dressing, and top with remaining Pecorino.