Besides cheery flowers, spring brings tender artichokes and a chance to experiment with new recipes. I’m growing at least four different types: Green Globe, Violetto, Purple of Romagna, plus a mystery artichoke that is dark violet and full of long sharp thorns.
All of them are tasty and the plants are beautiful, lush, and elegant – perfect for an edible landscape. And it’s fun to have a variety to try out in recipes. But if you can’t grow your own, look for very fresh young artichokes to make this raw artichoke salad. It’s a delicious surprise to taste the nutty, slightly sweet, tender young raw artichokes in this simple salad.
You Will Need
1 Medium very fresh artichoke per person, Green Globe or other type
Salad greens: lettuce, arugula, or mixed baby greens
Extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese, shaved
Prepare the Artichokes
Prepare the artichokes by rinsing well in cold water. Remove the small leaves around the base of each artichoke by snapping them off. Cut the top of the leaves off with a sharp knife to about one and a half to two inches from the base, and remove tough outer leaves until you reach the tender light green leaves in the center.
Cut the stem off at the base, cut the peeled artichoke down the middle lengthwise, and slice each half very thinly lengthwise. Do a taste test at this point to make sure it’s not bitter (if it tastes bitter, saute in olive oil for several minutes). Toss the slices with fresh lemon juice in a bowl so that they won’t turn brown, then drizzle with olive oil.
Serve and Enjoy!
Arrange the salad greens on individual salad plates and mound the artichoke slices on top of the greens. Sprinkle with kosher salt and top with shaved Parmesan cheese, if desired. This light salad makes a great first course for a spring dinner.
A Bit About Growing Artichokes
The Italians are known for growing an incredible diversity of violet heirloom artichokes, from Violetta di Chioggia and Purple of Romagna, to Romanesco Italian Purple. I’ve never seen any of these in any market, even in California, so I decided to try growing them myself. Besides being tasty and tender, they are stunningly beautiful on the plant. Artichokes are commonly propagated by dividing an established plant. They are not reliably grown from seed.
I learned firsthand why that is: the seeds don’t grow true to the parent plant. My mystery artichoke came from a packet of Purple of Romagna seeds that I grew and planted in my garden. Some of the seeds grew into thornless Purple of Romagna, and some grew into spiny plants with very long sharp thorns on the slender, dark purple artichoke.
Any ideas on what it might be? I’d love to know!
Read more more about how to grow artichokes.
Photos: Patricia Larenas, Urban Artichoke