Artichoke, Roast Garlic & Soya Bean Salad with Champagne Vinegar Dressing

Artichoke, Roast Garlic and Soya Bean Salad with Lemon DressingGlobe Artichokes are more hassle than they’re worth in my opinion. They are a member of the thistle family and what little flesh there is to eat on them is hard work to extract. I know they have their fans, especially in Castroville in California which proudly proclaims itself  ‘The Artichoke Centre of the World’ and holds an annual festival in the artichoke’s honour. Whilst thats one food festival I wouldn’t go out of my way to attend I recently found two artichokes in my veg box which had to be dealt with. I wanted to find a way to serve them that addressed the other problem artichokes have, which is their appearance when cooked. The flesh, as well as being minimal, is not particularly attractive in colour and the idea that cooking them in acidulated water helps with this is a lie; it doesn’t. So, how to stretch my two thistles to make a decent dish and how to make those dishes look appealing? I decided to use only the hearts, which are grey, and to lightly pan fry them which I duly did, and an odd thing happened. They changed colour and became a  sort of pale blue! They worked well in this salad starter cut into small, crisp, lightly salted nuggets. All in all,  I do feel I got the best out of them but this didn’t stop me ticking that little box on my veg box delivery form which says ‘do not include this item again’. Sorry, Castroville. I hope you can forgive me.

Ingredients

2 globe artichokes

3 oz frozen soya beans

2 heads of garlic

Handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

Salt, oil for frying.

For the Dressing

4 tbsp champagne vinegar

4 tbsp groundnut oil

Pinch of salt

1/4 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp mild flavoured honey

Method

Place the artichokes in a large pan of water, bring to the boil and simmer until cooked. Depending on their size this will take anywhere from 40 mins to an hour. When they are cooked chill them down in ice water and then drain any excess liquid out – I usually put mine stalk side up on the draining board for a while. While they are cooking, roast the garlic bulbs; slice the tops off just deeply enough to expose the cloves and place upside down in a small oven oven-proof dish with a couple of tablespoons of oil and a little salt. Cover with foil and roast on gas mark 3 for one hour, turning and basting half way through. Cook the soya beans for 3 – 4 mins in salted water, refresh, drain and set to one side. Now make your champagne vinegar dressing by mixing all the ingredients together in a jar and giving it a good shake. If you don’t have champagne vinegar, use something else for the acidic component of the dressing which is mild, the aim being not to overpower the delicate flavour of the artichoke. Next, pull off the leaves of the artichoke, discard the choke and cut the heart into nice shapes. Season and pan fry in a little groundnut oil until you achieve a light browning of the pieces. Take the garlic bulbs out of the oven – they should be caramelised by now – and pop out the cloves. Combine all the salad ingredients, divide into two bowls,  pour over the dressing and serve immediately.

SERVES TWO

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